The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with a Hyderabad-based biopharmaceutical company has developed 'highly purified antisera' prepared by injecting inactivated SARS-CoV2 in horses, which can be a potential treatment for COVID-19.
'The ICMR and Biological E Limited, Hyderabad, have developed highly purified antisera (raised in animals) for prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19,' the apex health research body said on Thursday.
The 'antisera' is yet to undergo human clinical trials to establish its safety and efficacy and Drugs Controller General of India would be approached soon in this regard, Dr Samiran Panda, the head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the ICMR said.
Antisera are blood serum high in antibodies against specific antigens and are injected in humans to help kickstart the immune system to fight specific infections.
The pre-print version of the study regarding the development of the equine antisera has been posted on Research Square platform.
'The study provides evidence of the potential of generating highly purified F(ab')2 from equines against SARS-CoV-2 that can demonstrate consistent and high neutralization activity.
'Further, in-vivo testing for efficacy of this indigenously developed, cost effective product will pave the way to clinical evaluation.
'Additionally, being a donor independent method, this may prove as an efficient alternative to convalescent plasma for treatment of COVID-19 patients,' the study paper said.
Earlier such measures were used for controlling several viral and bacterial infections.
'Although, plasma recovered from patients experiencing COVID-19 could serve similar purpose, the profile of antibodies, their efficacy and concentration keep varying from one patient to another and therefore make it an unreliable clinical tool for patient management,' the ICMR said in a tweet.
'Standardisation achievable through equine sera based treatment modality thus stands out as yet another remarkable public health initiative supported by ICMR in the time of COVID-19,' it said.
As part of the study, 10 healthy horses were immunized with inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus and after 21 days of immunisation, plasma samples were tested.
The results of the plasma samples indicated presence of indicated the presence of SARS-Co-V2 specific IgG antibodies as detected in ELISA with neutralizing capacity.
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.