Thiruvananthapuram: The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in the Kerala capital here has launched a new research programme on medicinal plants and products used in ayurveda with the aim of identifying their active compounds, targets, pathways and discovering potential new therapeutic uses.
The new programme has been named "Ayurveda Inspired Discovery".
The RGCB already has a 'Natural Products Research Platform' that uses advanced technologies such as DNA fingerprinting, DNA barcoding, chemical fingerprinting and chemo-informatics to assay ayurvedic compounds and scientifically document the various plants used in traditional medicines.
"The global market for herbal drugs is growing at around 15 percent every year. However, most research in ayurveda today is concentrated on medicinal plants and the development of herbal medicines," RGCB director M. Radhakrishna Pillai said.
"At RGCB, we want to delve deeper into what makes these drugs effective and the biological pathways they target, which could reveal new uses for these medicines and open up whole vistas for scientific research," he said.
The RGCB is one of the few institutes in India equipped for translational research, with three campuses - one focused on discovery, another on innovation and the third a bio-nest incubation facility to translate the research into applications and products.
Research teams are also conducting a clinical study to evaluate if 'Amalaki Rasayana' (an ayurvedic remedy with amla or Indian gooseberry as a main constituent) can help in the prevention and management of cardiac failure.
Plants such as pomegranate, leadwort, Gin berry and Pala Indigo that have long been part of traditional remedies are being tested for their potential in treating breast, liver and skin cancers.
"Ayurveda already meets the treatment needs of 70 percent of India's rural population. Its solutions for common health problems are often cheap, effective and safe. Our aim is to lend scientific rigour to the evaluation of ayurveda therapeutics so that they become more acceptable globally and help even more people worldwide," Pillai said