Mumbai, Pune & New Delhi: Sun Pharma and The National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, an institution of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi announced that they have signed an agreement for testing phytopharmaceutical, biologic and chemical entities developed by Sun Pharma against Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue viruses.
Sun Pharma will provide drug molecules to NIV for testing against Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue in model systems. Candidate molecules with encouraging data will then be taken forward for commercial development.
Sun Pharma and NIV aim to promote discovery sciences, translational health research and development of medical products, which is in sync with the direction provided by Govt. of India’s ‘Make In India’ initiative. Sun Pharma’s agreement with NIV follows its MOU with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for conducting joint scientific research and innovation for testing of drugs, biosimilars and vaccines and disease control and elimination programs.
Together, Sun Pharma and NIV will work together to respond to significant and emerging public health threats in India and rest of the world due to viruses: Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue. These are arboviral diseases that have rapidly spread across globally in the last decade, and have often led to large-scale endemic outbreaks in tropical and sub-tropical countries.
While these viral diseases are transmitted to humans by infected Aedes mosquitoes, Zika and chickungunya viruses are genetically related. These three diseases pose major public health concern due to lack of any vaccine or any specific therapeutic drugs to treat or cure. The patients are given symptomatic treatment.
Commenting on the agreement signed with NIV, Mr. Kirti Ganorkar, Executive VP &
Head, Global Business Development, Sun Pharma, said, “Our agreement with NIV for developing drugs against Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue is part of our broader commitment for developing new and improved vaccines and drugs against arboviruses that are of significant health importance to India and rest of the world. Our decision to partner with NIV was made following extensive due diligence and consultations on existing programs globally.”
According to Dr. Devendra Mourya, Director, NIV, Pune, ”Dengue and Chikungunya are major public health problem in India like most of the tropical and subtropical countries. Recently,rapid spread of Zika virus across the world has added threat to the list of Aedes borne infections.Unfortunately, yet no effective antivirals and vaccines are available for these infections. Our agreement with Sun Pharma aims to find a solution to these unmet needs”
ZIKA OVERVIEW: Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. The Zika virus was first isolated in Uganda in 1947. Since the 1950s, it has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. From 2007-2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, leading to the 2015-2016 Zika virus epidemic. The virus was first detected in India in December 2016 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The infection, known as Zika fever or Zika virus disease, often causes no or only mild symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. Zika can spread from a pregnant woman to her baby. This can result in
microcephaly, severe brain malformations, and other birth defects. Zika infections in adults may result rarely in Guillain-Barre syndrome There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for this virus.
CHIKUNGUNYA OVERVIEW: Chikungunya is an infection caused by the chikungunya virus, belonging to the family Togaviridae. The most common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. While the disease typically occurs in Africa and Asia, outbreaks have been reported in Europe and the Americas since the 2000s. There is no vaccine to prevent or drug to treat
chikungunya virus. .
DENGUE OVERVIEW: Dengue is a neglected mosquito-borne viral disease that is rapidly spreading globally. Dengue incidence has increased by more than 30-fold in the past 50 years. Currently, half of the global population lives under dengue threat; and an estimated 390 million infections occur worldwide every year with approx. 100 million cases of clinical disease and over 25,000 deaths. All four dengue virus serotypes are now endemic in India. Currently, there are no available antivirals, which presents a public health challenge in India and other parts of the world,
including developed nations. There is no specific treatment other than supportive clinical care, which is extremely difficult in developing countries with poor resources.