Is 2-DG the game-changer in COVID-19 treatment that everyone has been waiting for? Let’s find out in this article. 

On May 1, 2021, the DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) gave approval for “Emergency Use” of a drug called 2-DG (2-deoxy-D-glucose ) as an add-on therapy to the standard care in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients. 

The therapeutic application of this drug for COVID-19 has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad. 

According to a press release by DRDO, results from clinical trials have shown that 2-DG helps in the faster recovery of hospitalised COVID-19 patients and reduces the body’s dependence on supplemental oxygen so that patients can be weaned off earlier from external oxygen support. 

Here is everything you want to know about 2-DG

1. What is 2-DG?

2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) is an analogue of glucose (a compound with a molecular structure closely similar to that of another molecule). 

2. How does it work?

The press release by DRDO states that the drug works by concentrating in coronavirus-infected cells. It prevents the growth of the virus by stopping further multiplication of the virus into new particles and inhibiting energy production. 

3. Who does it help?

2-DG has been approved for emergency use as an adjunct (in addition to primary therapy) therapy in moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. Thus, it is not meant to replace the primary treatment of COVID-19 but only support it. 

It is recommended for use in hospital settings under the supervision of a medical team. 

COVID-19 patients in home-care or those with a mild form of the disease should not take it without consultation with their doctors. 

4. How were the trials conducted?

DCGI permitted Phase-II clinical trials for 2-DG in COVID-19 patients in May 2020.

In the Phase-II trials conducted between May to October 2020, the drug was found to be safe for use in COVID-19 patients and contributed significantly to their recovery. Patients treated with 2-DG showed faster symptomatic cure than those receiving standard care. 

Phase-III clinical trials were conducted between December 2020 to March 2021. In comparison to those receiving standard care, a significantly higher proportion of patients administered with 2-DG improved symptomatically and did not need supplemental oxygen by day 3.

Then, on May 01, 2021, the DCGI granted permission for the 'Emergency Use' of 2-DG as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.

5. What is its efficacy?

As per the press release, clinical trial results show that 2-DG helps in faster recovery of hospitalised COVID-19 patients and reduces their dependence on external oxygen supply. 

DRDO chairperson, Dr G Satheesh Reddy has said that 2-DG should work against various strains of the COVID-19 virus.

6. How is it taken?

The drug is available in powder form in a sachet. It has to be dissolved in water and taken orally. 

As per Dr Sudhir Chandna, DRDO Project Director and Scientist, 2-DG may have to be consumed twice a day for about 5 to 7 days. However, it should be consumed only after consultation with a doctor.

7. What is its safety?

According to the press release, the drug was found to be safe in COVID-19 patients during the Phase-II/III trials.

8. What is its price?

INMAS scientist Dr Sudhir Chandna has said that the pricing will be determined by their partner, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, which is manufacturing the drug. However, the pricing will be finalised keeping affordability in mind.

9. What is its availability? 

According to the press release, since 2-DG is a generic molecule (not patented) and a glucose analogue, it can be produced easily and made available in large quantities across the country.

The first batch of 2-DG was released by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on May 17, 2021.

Speaking to news agency Asian News International (ANI), the DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy said, "Regular production will be starting from the first week of June and that will be available to everyone everywhere."

10. What are its side effects?

There is no information currently available (as of May 21, 2021) about the possible side effects of 2-DG. 

We will have to wait for more research and reports to be released by the official authorities on the side effects of this drug.

In the middle of the devastating second wave of the pandemic in India, a drug like 2-DG could help the overburdened health infrastructure in India by reducing oxygen dependence in hospitalised patients and ensuring faster recovery. 

Meanwhile, do not forget to get vaccinated, wear a double-mask, maintain social distancing, wash your hands frequently, and use hand sanitisers. 

Stay home and stay safe!

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