JNTBGRI to focus on medicinal plants with platelet augmentation activity

The Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) here is embarking on a research project to evaluate the platelet augmentation activity of selected medicinal plants found in the Western Ghats. The project has been taken up as a response to the epidemic of viral fevers, including dengue fever, leptospirosis and malaria, across the State.

The project, cleared by the research committee of JNTBGRI on Thursday, seeks to develop scientifically validated herbal drugs capable of accelerating the platelet count in victims of viral diseases and even cancer. In the first phase, it is proposed to conduct pre-clinical studies of three plant species. The second phase will focus on inter-institutional collaboration to apply system biology at different levels, namely cell, tissue, organ, organism and system. Dr. S.R. Suja, Scientist, JNTBGRI will be the principal investigator.

Director, JNTBGRI, Dr. P.G. Latha told The Hindu that the project was designed as an intervention to tackle the rising incidence of dengue infection that often acquired epidemic proportions in Kerala. She said animal studies using rats and human clinical trials done in Malaysia had proved the efficacy of papaya leaves in enhancing platelet count in victims of dengue fever.

“There are likely to be plants with more potent activity. This project is all about identifying such species. If we come up with positive leads, JNTBGRI will think of tying up with Oushadhi for clinical trials,” she said.

According to Dr. S. Rajasekharan, Senior Project Consultant and former Head, Division of Ethnomedicine and Ethnopharmacology, JNTBGRI, the selection of medicinal plants for the study will be based on traditional knowledge obtained from classical and oral health traditions, including tribal medicine.

The plants to be taken up for screening under the project include those traditionally used to treat different types of fever and cancer.

Dr. Rajasekharan said the project would seek to integrate Ayurveda with system biology of modern science. This kind of study, he said, might lead to new theories, concepts and protocols in the development of herbal drugs and molecules for modern medicines.