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Tackling heart attack: Chandigarh institute develops new drug
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Tackling a heart attack, which is till now a costly affair, may soon be within the reach of the common man?

Egged on by their Director, Dr Amit Ghosh, scientists of the Chandigarh-based Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) have already developed a recombinant version of the popular clot-buster drug Streptokinase. The recombinant Streptokinase is scheduled to hit the market next year.

Recombinant Streptokinase will bring down the cost of this life saving drug many times. IMTECH has already entered into an agreement with Chennai-based Shasun Drugs to market the drug.

But, this is not all. Scientists of the institute have already developed a clot-specific version of Streptokinase. Experts believe that this drug will revolutionalise heart attack treatment worldwide.

“We have applied for US and European patents on this clot-specific clot-buster drug. We are hopeful that this drug will change the way in which heart attacks are tackled,” says IMTECH Deputy Director and Senior Scientist Girish Sahni, team leader of the group that developed these drugs.

After a heart attack, the patient is administered clot-busters to break the clot in the artery. However, till as recent as 2000, clot-buster drugs, which were being imported from the USA, cost over Rs 5,000 per vial, taking the drug beyond the reach of average Indians.

After Streptokinase developed by IMTECH was launched commercially by Cadilla, the prices crashed. Streptokinase is now available for less than Rs 1500.

Later, a team of IMTECH scientists led by Dr Sahni developed recombinant clot-buster drug.

Says Dr Ghosh “The present clot-busting drugs don’t act locally at the place where the clot is located, giving rise to side-affects. Clot-specific Streptokinase will hit the clot straight without affecting any other part of the body. This drug will become active only when it comes in contact with the clot in the heart.”

In fact, experts feel that clot-specific Streptokinase will give Tissue-Plasminogen Activator (TPA), being marketed by a US company, a run for its money.

After having developed an oral recombinant cholera vaccine, the first of its kind developed by a country other than the USA under the Jai Vigyan Mission of the Government of India, the clot-specific Streptokinase will be yet another feather in the cap of the prestigious IMTECH.

IMTECH holds the patent for cholera vaccine.

Incidentally, scientists of the institute are also working on developing a vaccine to treat tuberculosis.

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