Sunday, Oct 19, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Disclosing this, the Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology in the Union Ministry of Science and Technology, Manju Sharma, said the new compound, which was isolated from the crude extract of neem bark, had undergone tests on animal models. The results showed that they blocked secretion of gastric acid and prevented ulceration much more effectively than ranitidine and omeprazol, the two widely used anti-secretory, anti-ulcer drugs. The project was funded by the Department.
Speaking to The Hindu, she said that in another major development, scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru University here have isolated a novel peptide from the seed extract of karela (bitter gourd), which was found to be highly effective in the treatment of diabetes. Efforts have been recently initiated to clone the gene for the peptide so that it could be mass-produced and thus help in coming up with a cost-effective, anti-diabetic drug. Further, she said, a number of new compounds for enhancing and modulating immunity levels have recently been isolated and identified by scientists at the National Institute of Immunology here from three medicinal plants neem, barberin, and guduchi and they are also likely to come to the market in a few years.
The new developments, she noted, were the results of the recent steps taken by the Government to utilise the latest techniques of biotechnology to tap more effectively the rich floral biodiversity of the country for generation of newer medicinal products over and above the drugs that have been developed by practitioners of Ayurveda and other indigenous systems of medicine over the centuries. Work is currently going on a total of 19 potential bio-active lead molecules, isolated and identified through the screening of medicinal plants used in the Indian traditional systems of medicine.
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