ReaGene Innovations Private Limited, a startup company incubated at the ASPIRE-BioNEST, and INDRAS Private Limited have a rationale for an anti-diabetic drug Ertugliflozin, as repurposed drug from the in-vitro and in-silico studies, respectively, might provide a therapeutic solution to the COVID-19 infection.  Their findings indicate that this repurposed drug not only binds effectively to the receptor binding domain of the spike protein of COVID-19 further blocks binding to human ACE2 but also displays significant anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic properties in a 3D human vascular lung model, both of which are fundamentals in COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Uday Saxena


This is the first result that offers a safe, ready-to-use, cost-effective solution to humans who contract COVID-19.  “It has immense potential to treat COVID-19 infection, and our research proves its efficacy in the test-tube assays”, says Dr. Uday Saxena, CEO of ReaGene Innovations, co-founded with Dr. Subramanyam Vangala, and Dr. Sreedhara Voleti, MD of INDRAS.  Ertugliflozin is an FDA approved drug for type-2 diabetes, works as SGLT-2 inhibitor by removing excessive glucose through urine.

INDRAS focus is on consulting, contracting, and collaborative solutions to in-silico drug design, has prioritized about 8000 FDA approved drugs to top-10 from their computational studies, which were further experimented by ReaGene Innovations for various in-vitro assays on cytokine storm, antithrombotic properties, and inflammatory marker reduction through various in vitro assays.

The path to find such a repurposed drug was critically planned and completed within a year of funding from the IT giant, Tech Mahindra.  Tech Mahindra team efficiently led by Dr. Ratnakar Palakodeti, Global Practice Head of Life Sciences, and Mr. Nikhil Malhotra, Global head of Makers Lab together with the scientific partnership of INDRAS and ReaGene, brought this useful innovation immensely helpful for humanity affected by COVID-19.  The outcomes of the results of this research were recently published in a journal (BioRxIV) and a patent was filed both in India as well as PCT. “We have found a molecule that can potentially attack corona virus. We have applied for a joint patent,” Malhotra said. The obtained results are highly encouraging, and further in animal models towards preclinical, and clinical outcomes in humans are yet to be conducted for this drug to be officially nominated as a therapeutic agent for COVID-19.

ASPIRE-BioNEST is a life sciences incubator jointly funded by BIRAC, a section-8 not-for-profit organization of Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, and University of Hyderabad for nurturing scaling technologies through entrepreneurship located in the School of Life Sciences of University of Hyderabad with a commitment to nurture start-ups like ReaGene Innovations, helping them achieve their goals by providing plug-and-play facilities.