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Ashwagandha compound may be effective anti-Covid drug: Study by IIT-D, Japan’s AIST

IIT-D said the team reported that “natural compounds from Ashwagandha and propolis have the potential to be effective anti-COVID-19 drug candidates”.

IIT-D said the team reported that “natural compounds from Ashwagandha and propolis have the potential to be effective anti-COVID-19 drug candidates”. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Properties of the ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha have “therapeutic and preventive value” against COVID-19 infection, researchers of IIT-Delhi have found in collaboration with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

The researchers, led by Professor D Sundar from DAILAB (DBT-AIST International Laboratory for Advanced Biomedicine), said their study had been accepted for publication in Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, and is likely to be published soon.

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“SARS-CoV-2 virus genome and structure have been recently published triggering drug designing, devising and development using informatics and experimental tools, worldwide. DAILAB and AIST Japan, working on natural compounds from Ashwagandha and propolis for last several years, explored the possibility of some of their bio-actives to interact with SARS-CoV-2,” IIT-D said in a statement.

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IIT-D said the team reported that “natural compounds from Ashwagandha and propolis have the potential to be effective anti-COVID-19 drug candidates”.

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“The researchers targeted the main SARS-CoV-2’s enzyme for splitting proteins, known as the Main protease or Mpro that plays a key role in mediating viral replication. This is an attractive drug target for this virus… They discovered that Withanone (Wi-N), a natural compound derived from Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE), an active ingredient of New Zealand propolis, have the potential to interact with and block the activity of Mpro,” the statement said. “The study is currently under review and expected to be published in a near future,” it said, adding though that “in order to acquire or appreciate particular effects, we must use the right and quality-controlled resource/extracts”.

Sundar said, “While the reputation of Ashwagandha as an immunity enhancer forms a basis of the recent initiative of the Indian government in forming an interdisciplinary task force to launch its clinical research studies related to SARS-CoV-2 and the Covid-19 disease, the current research report of this team provide hints on its direct anti-viral activities.”

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