MANILA — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has reached Phase 2 clinical trials for a possible medicine against dengue, one of the world's leading mosquito-borne illnesses, the agency announced on Friday.
Science Sec. Fortunato Dela Peña said in a virtually aired DOST report that the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD)’s Phase 2 clinical trial has at least 600 volunteers.
The project is expected to be finished within 10 months.
The 1st phase of the clinical trials, finished in 2020, showed that the formulation tested on 6 patients caused “minimal” and temporary side effects, according to PCHRD executive director, Dr. Jaime Montoya.
Some of the side effects, Montoya pointed out, included headaches, vomiting, and dizziness.
“Walang ibang major side effects po ang naitalaga o na-identify dahil sa pag-inom ng formulasyon na ito. Ngayong taon nakatakdang isagawa ang phase 2 clinical trial na may layong subukin ang safety and efficacy nitong dengue drug candidate sa higit kumulang na 600 volunteers,” he explained.
(There are no other major side effects identified when patients drank the formulation. We will do the phase 2 clinical trials this year to test the dengue drug candidate’s safety and efficacy on at least 600 volunteers.)
The phase 2 clinical trial, Montoya said, would investigate the medicine’s effectiveness, among others.
“Iimbestigahan… [ito] sa pamamagitan ng pagpapababa ng viral load o pagbawas ng viral leakage at pagpapabuti ng platelet formation… Ang phase 2 ay nakataktang isagawa sa Cavite at inaasahang matatapos sa loob ng 10 buwan,” he said.
(We will investigate this drug by lowering the viral load, reducing vial leakage, and improvement of platelet formation. The phase 2 is intended to be done in Cavite, which will be finished within 10 months.)
Montoya was confident that should the trials be successful this would be the first dengue medicine.
“Kapag naging matagumpay ang mga susunod na trials ang proyektong ito po ay makakagawa po ng kauna-unahang gamot laban sa dengue,” he said.
(If the trials become successful, we would be able to create the first drug against dengue.)
The Philippines in 2019 had an 81 percent drop in dengue cases compared with 2018, with only 79,219 cases and 306 deaths. Dela Peña, however, said dengue still remained a “health issue.”
The Philippines in 2016 became the first nation to use the world's supposedly first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, in a mass immunization program.
In December 2017, the government recalled Dengvaxia, after its manufacturer, France's Sanofi-Pasteur, said it could cause severe symptoms if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne disease.
The vaccine recall triggered a public health scare, which resulted in a drop of vaccination rate in the Philippines.
Dengue infections have steadily climbed across the globe since the 1970s due to rising temperatures and irregular monsoon rains linked to climate change, which allow for ideal mosquito breeding conditions.
Dengue is mostly found in crowded areas, and breakneck urbanization across the globe has helped the virus thrive, especially in fast-growing mega-cities like Manila, Rio de Janeiro, Ho Chi Minh City and Tegucigalpa.
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Reports from Jasmine Romero, ABS-CBN News and Agence France-Presse