World’s 1st dengue drug, made by Pinoys

Reposted from
Written by Lyn Resurreccion

THE first anti-dengue medicine in the world may be available by end of next year. And, also significant, it is made by Filipino researchers in the Philippines.

Dr. Rita Grace Y. Alvero, program leader of the dengue herbal clinical trial from Pharmalytics Corp., told the “Talakayang HeaRTbeat” on Monday that the researchers from Pharmalytics and De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute have concluded Phase 1 of the clinical trial for the drug against dengue that they got from three plant components. They are hopeful that it will be approved for marketing by the end of 2020.

“We have completed the preclinical testing. We have completed the safety analysis in animals. We are now in the human testing. We have just concluded the Phase 1 clinical trial. [Based on] our findings, there was no dose-limiting toxicity,” Alvero said, partly in Filipino.

She explained that the last cohort, or people who took the medicine, took 106 capsules of 400 mg of its three plant components and no toxicity was observed.

“We will probably start Phase 2 and Phase 3 by the first quarter of next year. We will end by the third quarter. [Then] we will apply for marketing authorization. Hopefully, by the end of 2020, the anti-dengue drug may be out [in the market],” Alvero explained in citing the details of the process of making the drug.

Her announcement was met with a round of applause from Department of Science and Technology (DOST) officials, including Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara and Director Dr. Jaime Montoya of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), and experts Dr. Gisela Concepcion of University of the Philippines-Diliman, Dr. Irene Villaseñor of UP Diliman and Dr. Renato Reyes of Central Luzon State University, who were present during the forum.

She clarified that it will not be a herbal supplement.

“It is a drug. That means it has a scientific basis to back up the efficacy of the anti-dengue drug,” Alvero explained.

De la Peña quipped: “That will be her [Alvero’s] Christmas gift [to us] next year.”

Montoya said he is “very excited” with the developments in making the anti-dengue drug.

“It is the very first in its class. No country, even the US, has an anti-dengue drug produced. We are looking forward to this,” he said.

The dengue drug project by Alvero started in 2012, for a processing period of eight years.

The dengue research was part of the DOST’s Tuklas Lunas program to produce reliable and affordable medicines sourced from the country’s rich biodiversity.

De la Peña said Tuklas Lunas has 28 centers all over the country and 28 research-implementing institutions. A total of P1.5 billion was invested in the program since it started in 2011.

Besides the anti-dengue drug being developed by Pharmalytics and De La Salle, a herbal supplement against dengue was developed by Herbanext Laboratories.

Herbanext’s herbal supplement from tawa-tawa, under the Daily Apple brand name, was released in August at the height of the dengue epidemic in the country.

Guevara said, “As we continue our path [on] the future of medicine development, DOST wishes to honor our Filipino knowledge and traditions in healing combined with the modern discoveries of research and development. This knowledge is a gift from our ancestors. As such, it will be a guide to learn from past mistakes, open new doors to discovery and provide us with courage to face the future. In this we hope for a tomorrow that will enable our countrymen to have cheap, safe, effective and easily accessible medicines.”

For his part, Montoya said, “We are very optimistic that this will happen. We have the best scientists, we have a rich biodiversity, which is the source of these natural medicines, and we have the support of the government, the Council and the department [DOST]. We have the best pool of scientists, of experts.”

He added: “We are very hopeful and optimistic that in the next few years, we are coming up with the very promising, very effective, affordable and safe drugs that will address the leading causes of morbidity and mortality [in the country].”

Image Credits: Lyn Resurreccion