Researchers at IIT Delhi's DAILAB and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have discovered that Ashwagandha might prove crucial in the search for coronavirus vaccine. The team has found that natural compounds in Ashwagandha and Propolis have the potential to be effective anti-coronavirus drugs. The research team led by Prof D Sundar, Coordinator of DAILAB and Head of the Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology at IIT Delhi said that their study would soon be published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics.
IIT-D said in a statement that the researchers targeted the main SARS-CoV-2's enzyme to split proteins known as Main protease or Mpro. Mpro plays a key role in mediating viral replication. The researchers found that Withanone (Wi-N), a natural compound derived from Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE) an ingredient in New Zealand Propolis have the ability to block activity of the Mpro. They said that the right and quality-controlled resource and extracts must be used for the particular effects.
Prof Sundar said that while Ashwagandha is already known as an immunity enhancer, the current research sheds light on its antiviral properties. Prof Sundar said, "The traditional medicine system 'Ayurveda' has been practiced for thousands of years in India. Unlike modern medicine, the mechanism of action of natural drugs has not been resolved so far," he added.
Not only can this research save time and cost, the team said, it could also offer preventive and therapeutic value in managing the coronavirus pandemic. They also added that developing a drug might take a while.
IIT-D PhD student Vipul Kumar, PhD alumni and a post-doctoral fellow at AIST Jaspreet Kaur Dhanjal are the researchers involved in this study. They also collaborated with Dr Renu Wadhwa (Prime Senior Research Scientist and Head of AIST-INDIA DAILAB) and Dr Sunil Kaul (Senior Research Scientist, AIST-INDIA DAILAB) of National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan.