Kullu, January 20
Research scholars of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi, and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, have identified phytochemicals (chemicals derived from plants) in the petals of a Himalayan plant that can potentially be used to treat Covid-19. The findings of the research team were published in the journal ‘Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics’ recently.
The petals of the Himalayan ‘buransh’ (rhododendron arboreum) plant are consumed in various forms by the local population for its varied health benefits. The scientists of the IIT, Mandi, and the ICGEB carried out scientific tests on the extracts of buransh petals containing various phytochemicals, with particular focus on antiviral activity.
The researchers showed through experimental assays that non-toxic doses of the petal extracts can inhibit Covid in Vero E6 cells (cells derived from kidney of an African green monkey that are commonly used to study infectivity of virus and bacteria), without any adverse effects on the cells themselves.
The research was led by Dr Shyam Kumar Masakapalli, Associate Professor, BioX Centre, School of Basic Science, IIT, Mandi; Dr Ranjan Nanda, Translational Health Group; and Dr Sujatha Sunil, Vector Borne Disease Group, ICGEB, New Delhi. The paper has been co-authored by Dr Maneesh Lingwan, Shagun, Falak Pahwa, Ankit Kumar, Dileep Kumar Verma, Yogesh Pant, Lingarao VK Kamatam and Bandna Kumari.
Dr Masakapalli says, “Among different types of therapeutic agents being studied, phytochemicals are considered particularly promising because of their synergistic activity and natural source with fewer toxicity issues. We are hunting for promising molecules from the Himalayan flora using multi-disciplinary approaches.”
Dr Nanda says, “We have profiled and investigated the phytochemicals of rhododendron petals sourced from Himalayan flora and have found it to be a promising candidate against the Covid virus.”