Dengue cure trial short of patients

SINGAPORE - A clinical trial for the drug Celgosivir, which could be the world’s first cure for dengue fever, has hit a roadblock.

The researchers behind the project have the funding and the green light to test the drug, but do not have enough trial participants.

Since the announcement of the trial in August, they have found only 12 suitable participants. They need 50.

The Singapore General Hospital and researchers at the Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School are carrying out the trial.

Principal investigator Jenny Low said they received 24 referrals from the network of approved clinics, but only 12 were eligible and had successfully completed the trial.

Dr Low, also an infectious diseases consultant, said there are potential patients out there as there are some active clusters of dengue.

She suspects that awareness of the programme among clinics could be a problem.

“The referrals have been coming from the same clinics,” she said.

Celgosivir is not a drug that is new to the market. It has been tested in the United States and Europe for the treatment of viral infections such as Hepatitis C and HIV.

There are no approved drugs for treating dengue. While other clinical trials on dengue here have focused on vaccines, this one aims to find a cure.

The team’s early tests on mice found the drug to be effective against all four types of dengue.

Up to 100 million people are infected with dengue each year, and 5,330 cases were reported last year in Singapore alone.

Those interested in taking part in the trial must be between 21 and 65 years old, and must not have had the fever for more than two days. They also need to test positive for dengue using a test kit that general practitioners participating in the trial would have.

The $1.6 million trial is funded by the Stop Dengue Translational Clinical Research Programme grant under the Health Ministry’s National Medical Research Council and the National Research Foundation.

Patients or doctors interested in the trial may visit

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