Ashwagandha to be COVID19 warrior
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Ashwagandha to be COVID19 warrior – Takes Lead in IIT-Delhi Study

Across the globe, Remdesivir, Favilavir,  APN01, Ritonavir, Lopinavir, and Hydroxychloroquine are being tested in clinical trials. As of now, there is no therapy against COVID-19 that has been found to be effective. New study suggests that natural compounds from Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Propolis could be used against COVID-19 as they are potential drug candidates.  It is revealed in a collaborative study of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan, and DAILAB at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan, and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) collaborated to form an international laboratory, the DAILAB (DBT-AIST International Laboratory for Advanced Biomedicine). For the past several years, DAILAB has been working on natural compounds like Propolis and Ashwagandha. To interact with severe acute respiratory syndrome-CoronaVirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), it has explored the possibility of some of their bio-actives. The Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics has accepted this study for publication.

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Main protease (Mpro), the main SARS-CoV-2 enzyme for splitting proteins, was targetted by the researchers in this study. In mediating viral replication, Mpro plays a key role. Compounds that target Mpro are likely to have low toxicity as humans don’t naturally have this enzyme, and this is an attractive drug target for this virus. To interact with and block the activity of Mpro, an active ingredient of New Zealand Propolis and a natural compound Withanone (Wi-N) derived from Ashwagandha and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE) were discovered to have the potential.

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To modulate the protein on the surface of human cells, the transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), to which SARS-CoV-2 binds and allows its entry into our cell, researchers have studied the capability of these bio-actives and selected Withanone. The study is expected to be published in the near future and is currently under review.

These findings offer some preventive and therapeutic value for the management of fatal COVID-19 pandemic and also saves time and cost required for screening anti-COVID-19 drugs. Researchers say these natural resources (Ashwagandha and Propolis) may offer some preventive or even therapeutic value, and in the current scenario, the drug development may take a while.

One has to be cautious about the content of bioactive ingredients, though both the natural compounds are easily available and affordable. By generating its complex with cyclodextrins, the amount and stability of CAPE are critical factors that could be managed. The DAILAB team has described this earlier. On the other hand, Withanone varies with geography/parts/size of the Ashwagandha plant. Thus, we must use the right and quality-controlled extracts to acquire or appreciate particular effects.

At IIT Delhi, the Head of the Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology and Coordinator of DAILAB, Prof. D. Sundar said, “In India, for thousands of years, the traditional medicine system ‘Ayurveda’ has been practiced. However, the mechanism of action of natural drugs is unknown still, unlike modern medicine. For more than a decade, IIT Delhi and AIST researchers have been working together to merge the traditional knowledge with modern technologies, trying to contribute to strengthening this avenue.”

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Prof. Sundar added, “The current research report of this team provides hits on Ashwagandha’s direct anti-viral activities as it also has a well-trusted reputation as an immunity enhancer. This forms the basis of forming an Interdisciplinary Task Force, the recent initiative of the Government of India (a joint initiative of Indian Council of Medical Research [ICMR] with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of AYUSH) and launch its clinical research studies related to SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 disease.

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Ashwagandha to be COVID19 warrior