Preliminary herbal findings show promising results against Covid: DBT

New Delhi: In what could be a shot in the arm for traditional Indian medicines and AYUSH products, preliminary results of scientific herbal research by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have shown promising results against covid-19, said Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT at India’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

The biotechnology department develops therapies from natural products in partnership with the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) and has selected extracts from more than 15 medicinal plants for their antiviral properties.

This comes in the context of concerns being raised about the effectiveness of the alternative system of medicines in the prevention and treatment of various diseases. Modern medical doctors have challenged AYUSH systems due to lack of scientific research.

“The first round of scientific experiments has been completed and the results look promising. In the next two months, more results will be ready to share,” said PN Ranjit Kumar, co-secretary and spokesperson of the Ministry of AYUSH.

Modern medicine experts hailed the research urging the government to continue clinical trials to establish efficacy. “Plants are increasingly the subject of research against covid-19 around the world, and this is welcome. However, these preliminary results need to be confirmed in clinical trials,” said Dr. Anoop Misra, President of the Fortis-C-DOC Center of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology.

Professor K. VijayRaghavan, chief scientific adviser to the Indian government, said antivirals are important first-line defenses against infections such as SARS-CoV2.

“Although they can be effective, it is long and difficult to find them. Viruses use our machinery to replicate and a drug that only targets them and not us is not easy to discover. Viruses also replicate quickly. So antivirals need to act fast and early, before the virus can take over,” said K. VijayRaghavan.

“Our Ayurvedic herbal medicines and practices offer a wide and deep realm of exploration and experimentation. Encouraging preliminary results will, I am sure, be followed by rigorous testing. Such exploration will need to be conducted at a very large scale to fully bring out the hidden value,” he said.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has pushed for AYUSH systems amid the covid-19 pandemic, with the health and family welfare union also officially recommending AYUSH systems to manage the covid-19 pandemic. coronavirus.

“As part of the DBT-AYUSH collaborative program, studies were conducted on the anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities of selected medicinal plants and formulations in a cell culture model of viral infection at the Regional Center for Biotechnology ( RCB), Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) Faridabad and Life Sciences Institute (ILS) Bhubaneswar,” added Swarup, also a member of the Center’s National Expert Panel on Health Administration. vaccines (NEGVAC) for covid-19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March last year had called for substantial scientific studies on possible AYUSH solutions for Covid-19 to build confidence in traditional treatments.

“The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) provided standardized extracts of 15 selected medicinal plants, which were used to test the antiviral potential of these test substances,” Swarup said and added, “The in vitro (in outside the living) performed indicated that extracts of Ocimum sanctum (tulsi), Nigella sativa (kalaunji) and Andrographis paniculata (kalmegh) showed initial results and promise further more detailed studies.”

The biotechnology department is also conducting animal studies regarding covid-19 with the AYUSH ministry. The Animal Study Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB) and DBT and is based on the concept of Reverse Pharmacology (RP) which explores the scientific reasoning behind established medical practice such as those of Ayurveda.

The research is also billed as India’s first in vivo study of the anti-SARS-CoV-2 virus using oral interventions. The four oral interventions are Aswagandha (Withania somnifera), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)-Pippali (long pepper), Mulethi (licorice) and AYUSH-64 (a herbal compound).

“The first in vivo (within the living) tests have shown promising results with Ashwagandha and Anu oil. Experiments are underway for detailed studies and the results of the formulations against covid-19 will be available. after detailed analyses,” Swarup said.

This study is ongoing at THSTI Faridabad. THSTI’s sophisticated BSL-3 level laboratories house these studies, which are conducted on hamsters.

“Over the past few years, AYUSH systems have gained enormous popularity around the world for their effectiveness and the rewards they offer. At the same time, the government is also increasingly investing in sound scientific research in AYUSH disciplines. Evidence from scientific research is now emerging regularly for AYUSH solutions relating to the management of Covid-19,” added PN Ranjit Kumar.

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Alvin J. Chase