Indian scientists discover cheap clot-busting drug

Indian scientists discover cheap clot-busting drug

Brain stroke is the leading cause of death and disability in rural India.

Indian scientists have created a new inexpensive clot-busting drug that can be administered to ischemic stroke patient within 8-10 hours, unlike a popular medicine that needs to be given within the first three hours.

Developed by scientists at the Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, the new drug has the potential to emerge as a low-cost alternative to tissue plasminogen activator or tPA, a block-buster anti-clot busting medicine being used around the world in the last two decades.

The tPA, however, comes with two problems. It is expensive and needs to be given within the "golden window" of three hours of the stroke. Administered after the window period, it causes more harm than good.

The Indian alternative seeks to address both issues.

"Our product, PEGylated Streptokinase, has a half-life of 2-8 hours because of which it can be administered 8-10 hours after an ischemic stroke. Moreover, it is inexpensive," Girish Sahni, the director general of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and principle investigator of the project told DH.

This, Sahni argued, would leave doctors in small cities and rural India with adequate time to do an MRI on a stroke patient to determine if he/she is a fit case for administering the clot-buster.

Without that check, it may be harmful to give any clot-buster to a stroke patient.

Brain stroke, which occurs due to the blockage of an artery that supplies oxygen to the brain, is the leading cause of death and disability in rural India. An estimated 12 lakh Indians suffer from it every year.

Worldwide it is the second leading cause of death affecting nearly 15 million people, out of which 11 million people either die or become permanently disabled.

The prevalence of stroke is much higher in India than the West and about 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, caused by an obstruction in the blood vessel.

With successful laboratory results, CSIR last month transferred the technology to Mumbai-based firm Epygen Biotech Pvt Ltd that would carry out pre-clinical studies and subsequently clinical trials, if those studies turn out to be a success.

Sahni and his team at the Chandigarh laboratory worked on streptokinase – a low-cost clot-busting drug – for the last 15 years first developing naturally occurring streptokinase followed by a recombinant version and an engineered version with advanced properties.

While some of the drugs were transferred to industries like Cadila, an advanced version of the streptokinase developed by the same team is undergoing clinical trial since 2012 and currently at the phase-II of the trial.


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