August 17, 2019 11:06:29 am
In a first, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will set up a clinical trial platform at both the national and regional level for evaluating newer drugs. The move comes in the wake of the Nipah outbreak in Kerala.
“There was a big scare in the way the Nipah virus outbreak was evolving. It was effectively contained but it has thrown several challenges that have to be addressed,” said Dr R R Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology division at ICMR.
“We are bringing all medical research councils of the region together on August 26 and August 27, so that we can float a concept of setting up a regional clinical trial platform for research. For instance, if India wants to take a lead for monoclonal antibody testing to neutralise Nipah virus then the samples from within the country are few as the occurrences are less common. But they are more common in Bangladesh,” Dr Gangakhedkar, who also has additional charge as Director of National Institute of Virology (NIV), told The Indian Express.
“Setting up a regional platform will help us resolve issues related to the emerging diseases in our own region, rather than waiting for developed countries to come help with their interventions,” said Dr Gangakhedkar. He was in Pune to attend a workshop on laboratory preparedness and response for detection and handling of high-risk pathogens.
He admitted that new drug development in India was still weak. So, there was a need for government centres to set up a permanent unit to test the drugs. “This is also one important measure to bring down the cost of drugs and encourage the make in India initiative. ICMR has established 11 Phase 1 Clinical Trial units and we are contemplating another four Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trial units,” Dr Gangakhedkar said.
In his talk on efforts of ICMR in containment of Nipah virus outbreak, he admitted that the episode was a learning experience on their preparedness. “Apart from the excellent health care system in Kerala and the quick isolation of the Nipah virus by Dr D T Mourya with his team at NIV, which opened the way for diagnostics, it was also a conscious effort by a host of institutions that came together to deal with the outbreak, which did not spread and was contained effectively,” Dr Gangakhedkar said. “The challenges that we faced has now led us to address the need for setting up clinical trial centres in the country and region and further raise our levels of preparedness,” he added.
Dr Chandni Sajeevan, professor and Emergency Medical Relief head at Government Medical College, Kozhikode, recalled the adverse effect of Nipah virus outbreak. “Everything came to a standstill and it hit our economy badly,” Dr Sajeevan said.
‘One Health’ centre to come up at Nagpur
A ‘One Health’ centre will soon come up at Nagpur as part the ICMR-NIV effort to address emerging zoonotic infections and study animal-human interface. One health is an initiative that seeks greater integration of human and veterinary medicine in areas like infectious disease control and translational medical research. Dr D T Mourya, ICMR-Chair for Virology and Zoonoses, told The Indian Express that the centre will bring together experts from veterinary sciences, biotechnology and other disciplines towards better surveillance of infectious diseases in animals to anticipate emergence of new zoonoses and protect humans
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.