BENGALURU: After plasma therapy proved successful in treating criticallyill Covid-19 patients, clinical trials of cytokine therapy to cure mild and moderate patients too have been positive in the state. The second phase of the trials will start soon after the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) gives the go-ahead. Dr Vishal Rao, Principal Investigator of Clinical Trials, HCG Hospitals, and a member of the Covid consultative group, said, “We have finished the first phase of clinical trials of cytokine therapy on six volunteers, who were not infected with coronavirus but came forward for treatment.
The trials on them have been encouraging and none of them have had any side-effects. The reports will be submitted to the DCGI by the month-end and we may soon be able to start the second phase of trials on Covid-19 patients.” He said, “The first volunteer was screened on May 30 and the last visit of volunteers was on June 16.” The cytokine therapy is a mix of chemical messengers which helps accentuate the switch from passive to active immunity. It also enhances the release of interferons, which play a crucial role in the early phases of symptomatic patients.
Dr Rao said, “Before administering cytokine therapy, we had to monitor the health of volunteers for 12 hours, and they were advised not to consume alcohol. After giving them the injection, we again monitored them for another four hours to see if they were fine and then sent them home. Regular follow-ups were done and blood tests were done on the first, third and seventh day to check if they were infected.
The main worry was of cytokine storm, which could be dangerous. But we were sure it would not happen as experiments on animals did not have that effect.” Dr Rao said, “Right now, the majority of mild and moderate patients are getting cured. This therapy is to prevent such patients, slipping into advanced stages.” The HCG hospital has already started making the cytokine mixture for future use.