India’s National Institute of Virology in Pune and Sun Pharma to test new drug candidates targeting Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue.

Infectious diseases pose significant health hazards for many emerging countries. In particular, Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue are three viruses that are plaguing large populations across the world. While Chikungunya and Dengue have been recognized as significant threats to public health, Zika is a newer problem that is challenging healthcare systems particularly in Central and Latin America. In fact, all three arboviral diseases, according to Sun Pharma, have spread around the world during the last 10 years, causing significant outbreaks in countries locates in the tropics and sub-tropics.

Sun Pharma is developing several types of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), including phytopharmaceutical, biologic and chemical entities, intended for the treatment of these three diseases. The company recently announced a partnership with The National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, an institution of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi to test several of these drug candidates against Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue.

Sun Pharma will generate the drug candidates and NIV will conduct the testing. The APIs that show potential as treatments will be further developed and commercialized as appropriate. Phytopharmaceutical candidates that may be effective against Zika were isolated from Indian plants. Compounds that will be tested against chikungunya are small molecules developed in-house by Sun Pharma.

“A couple of interesting phytopharmaceutical candidates against Zika virus have been identified. There could be a lead candidate and multiple formulations,” said Dr. Altaf Lal, Senior Advisor for Global Health and Innovation at Sun Pharma. “The phytopharmaceuticals are being developed for treating individuals infected with Zika virus and possibly for curing Zika disease. 

Noted Kirti Ganorkar, Executive VP & Head, Global Business Development at Sun Pharma noted, “Our agreement with NIV for developing drugs against Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue is part of our broader commitment for developing new and improved vaccines and drugs against arboviruses that are of significant health importance to India and the rest of the world. Our decision to partner with NIV was made following extensive due diligence and consultations on existing programs globally.”