New Delhi: A yet-to-be peer-reviewed study by three laboratories of the government’s Council for Industrial and Scientific Research has found that the plant and root extract of velvetleaf can impact the replication of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, by up to 98 percent in cell cultures.
In Ayurveda, the velvetleaf extract is used for fever, especially dengue. The researchers revealed that it showed a similar response to several antiviral medicines.
The researchers found that the whole plant aqueous extract reduced the viral content In the cell cultures by 57 percent and the hydroalcoholic extract (a solution made with water and alcohol) reduced it by 98 percent, Hindustan Times reported.
The researchers also tested the molecules found in the extract separately against Sars-CoV-2 virus and reported that pareirarine was found to have the highest inhibition of 80 percent, the pre-print study uploaded on BioRxiv informed.
“First we used connectivity map – a platform that has information on the pathways of various drug – to see how the plant extract likely works. What we found is that it has similar pathways of action like many antivirals. When we did the lab-based study, we found this to be true,” Dr. Mitali Mukerji, senior scientist at Genomics and molecular medicine department at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology stated as quoted by HT.
She informed that this plant extract is already used in Ayurveda for fever, dengue, and some hormonal problems. “So, the safety is established. Now, only a randomised clinical trial can tell whether it does help in reducing the severity or duration of the infection in people,” she added.
Drug expert CM Gulati informed that the principle of using plant extract for treating ailments is not new. “The best examples would be quinine used to treat malaria that is derived from Cinchona trees and digoxin used to treat cardiac ailments derived from digitalis plants. But the current research is in very, very early stages. The scientists have to zero in on an active ingredient, decipher its chemical structure, and then develop a usable medicine.”
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