WHO recognizes UOL’s discovered drug ‘aprepitant’ for treatment of COVID-19

Story Highlights   

  • Maiden research from Pakistan to be included in Cochrance France database 
  • Copenhagen Trial Unit collaborated FAHS for COVID-Research
  • First IVIG developed in Pakistan for COVID-19
  • Tripartite MoU to enrich the project signed 
  • Clinical trials now registered with US based
  • Study attracts thousands of reads and multiple downloads the world over 

Staff Writer 

The Faculty of Allied Health Sciences (FAHS) at the University of Lahore has recently registered a landmark innovation of successfully developing IVIG—intravenous immunoglobulins (a serum having concentrated antibodies extracted from plasma of recovered patients) administered directly into the vein of recipients (current COVID-19 patients) for the treatment.

This latest product development was based on the immunological studies covering the potential of disease induced immunoglobulins as a treatment regimen. The team of researchers was able to generate the concentrated specific antibodies against coronavirus. The antibodies can be used as a serum therapy. This therapy is also passive immunization which is far better and more specific as compared to whole plasma and has no adverse effects.

The team under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Syed Amir Gilani (Dean FAHS), active contribution and participation of Prof. Dr. Riffat Mehboob (Convener Postgraduate Research Committee, FAHS) in collaboration with the University of Health Sciences (UHS) also discovered a drug named Neurokinin-1-Receptor antagonist, aprepitant that showed promising results for COVID-19 treatment in combination with Dexamethasone.

The discovered treatment was tested on 41 patients at Bahria International Hospital and the results were submitted to the World Health Organization as well as the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Aside from a COVID-19 vaccine, antibodies from recovered patients could provide a short-term “passive immunization” to the disease. Those antibodies can be extracted from the blood serum of surviving patients and then injected into infected people. The passive immunization usually lasts for a few weeks or months”, Dr. Mehboob elaborated. She added that: “While drugs to treat patients with COVID-19, and vaccines to prevent infection are being developed, a fast acting, stopgap serum therapy could be useful as a first aid for high-risk patients”.  

World Health Organization, reputable databases collaborate with UOL    

The World Health Organization (WHO) got impressed after reading the team’s study on COVID-19 treatment. “We were very interested to read your study report and we consider this is an important research project undertaken in the most challenging of times. We think that it would be important to include your study and its data in the living systematic review and meta-analysis that was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) to the Cochrane Collaboration and that we are conducting as part of the ongoing project Covid-NMA”, a letter from WHO Health Emergencies Programme dated August 18, 2020 and addressed to Dr. Mehboob read in part.  


“Our study is available on WHO website and people are vigorously reading and following this innovation of the time. WHO sent a letter of acknowledgment and appreciation of our efforts and requested us to collaborate. We are in contact with the international team working on COVID-19 and we are providing them updates of our research”, Dr. Mehboob added. 


Apart from WHO, the UOL’s maiden study was also archived with Cochrance France, a global database and meta-analysis receiving frequent attention worldwide in terms of reads, downloads and citations. According to Dr. Mehboob, UOL’s COVID-19 treatment study (by using aprepitant) is the first and only study from Pakistan that is included in this reputable database. Copenhagen Trial Unit, a Denmark based organization that conducts clinical trials internationally, has collaborated with the UOL’s trial on aprepitant.  

Clinical trials registered

As per the global protocols regarding the new drugs and studies, the UOL’s clinical trials for “To Determine the Efficacy of Neurokinin 1 Receptor Antagonist as a Therapeutic Tool Against Cytokine Storm and Respiratory Failure in Covid-19 Patients (NCT04468646) and Intravenous Immunoglobulins for the Treatment of Covid-19 Patients: a Clinical Trial (NCT04548557)” were registered internationally on the which is based in the United States of America. is a Web-based resource that provides patients, their family members, health care professionals, researchers, and the public with easy access to information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies on a wide range of diseases and conditions. The Web site is maintained by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

UOL, UHS, Amson Vaccines and Pharma Pvt. Ltd sign MoU 

FAHS, UOL and Faculty of Health Sciences, UHS which are involved in biomedical research signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in April 2020, with Amson Vaccines and Pharma Pvt. Ltd which is also involved in research and development with the capacity of manufacturing, filling, commercialization of all medicines. The MoU was specifically signed to enrich the findings of the study titled as “Isolation, Purification and enrichment of Immunoglobulin G and Immunoglobulin M from human plasma of recovered individuals from Covid-19 destined for passive immunization”. IVIG is another treatment first ever developed in Pakistan for the COVID-19, and UOL has a leading role in this development. 

The three parties are collaborating in advancing research through cooperation in such areas of interest which will benefit the institutions and community. The MoU stipulates that the Amson Ethical Committee is specifically responsible for approving all the research projects which have medical implications especially that involve animals and human beings. 

According to the MoU, the relevant research work is exercised in the Amison’s Microbiology Department and the same party will be providing the raw product to Universities for establishment of clinical trials. After successful clinical trials, Amson will also be responsible for manufacturing the product in bulk.

The MoU also obliges the three collaborating institutions to jointly publish the results of research originating from joint research efforts in the national and international reputable journals. Moreover, the tripartite alliance also permit MPhil and PhD students of the two universities seek guidance from the faculty members of both institutions with no restrictions.


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