The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) has initiated Ayurveda Inspired Discovery (AID) project to accelerate molecular level studies into medicinal plants and products used in Ayurveda with the aim of identifying their active compounds, targets, pathways and discovering potential new therapeutic uses. RGCB, which specializes in disease biology, is one of few institutes in India equipped for translational research, having three campuses – one focused on discovery, another on innovation and the third is Bio-Nest incubation facility to translate the research into applications and products.
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.
As part of the AID project, the institute has recently developed and patented an herbal mouthwash to help reduce mouth infections, abscess and pain suffered by oral cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. The clinical study of this mouth wash was carried out in collaboration with the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram.
Another Ayurveda-related project being undertaken with the RCC is tests into the efficacy of Varanadi Ghrita (an Ayurvedic mixture of herbs and ghee) in preventing the recurrence of tumours in head and neck cancer. The institute is 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. Scientists are also looking to identify potential antiviral molecules from plant sources to combat chikungunya and dengue.
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. The AID programme was showcased at RGCB’s pavilion at the 6th World Ayurveda Congress held in New Delhi. The institute also hosted a conclave of scientists and researchers from around India with AID as the main theme.