Natural remedies like Scarlet Leadwort and Ajwain were providing clues for developing drugs with the capacity to kill adult filarial worms, said Nisha Mathew, a scientist of the Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC), Pondicherry (Puducherry), which is an institute of the Indian Council of Medical Research, on Thursday.

She was making a power point presentation on “anti-filarial drug development” at the two-day national workshop on “Ayurvedic drug development for vector-borne diseases” organised by the National Ayurveda Research Institute for Vector Borne Diseases (NARIVBD) here on Thursday.

Ms. Mathew said there was no drug that could kill adult filarial worms as of now. Extracts of Plumbago indica (Leadwort) were weakening the worms and in higher concentrations killing adult filarial worms. She also spoke about the discovery of a “lead” molecule (molecule with the potential of being developed into a drug) in Trachyspermum ammi (Ajwain), a spice with anti-filarial properties.

Dr. N.T.R. University of Health Sciences' Vice-Chancellor A.V. Krishnam Raju, who inaugurated the seminar, said Ayurvedic remedies were known for diseases caused by parasites and bacteria, but the NARIVBD was trying to find cures for viral diseases transmitted by vectors.

Municipal Commissioner G. Ravi Babu said it was the poor that were mostly falling victim to vector borne diseases. NARIVBD should be able to provide medicines within the reach of the masses, he said.

Mr. Ravi Babu pointed out that filariasis, which was prevalent in 83 countries and was a risk to the health of 1,300 million people world over, could be eradicated because there were very effective drugs to kill the worm before it became an adult.

As many as 10 lakh people were suffering from the disease that manifested itself in various forms and about 50 lakh people were microfilaria carriers. But because of its ineffective mode of transmission when compared to malaria, in which the parasite was injected directly into the blood, and the effective drugs like Diethylcarbamizine Citrate (DEC), the recent World Health Assembly had decided to eradicate the disease totally by 2020. But India had set for itself an earlier target of eradicating the disease by 2015, he said.

Therapeutic approach

Ayushman Ayurvedic Centre chief physician J. L. N. Sastry said the comprehensive therapeutic approach of Ayurveda should be researched for the treatment of vector-borne diseases like malaria. NARIVBD Assistant Director (in-charge) and head of the institute G.K. Swamy said that all the papers submitted by the experts of various disciples would be used as inputs for preparing research and development projects.

Endocrinologist Satish Chandra and Ayurvedic drug manufacturer and pharmacologist V. Nagalakshmi chaired the two technical sessions held on the first day.

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