Drug Discovery and Development from Ayurveda


G. N. Qazi and Y. S., Bedi Regional Research Laboratory, Canal Road, Jammu Tawi-180 001 (India)


Proceedings of the Women's Health And Asian Traditional (WHAT) Medicine II Conference




ayurveda, drug discovery and development, India


The Ayurvedic database available in classic texts can be used for bioprospecting to identify new sources of medicine and to provide information about likely effects ranging from primary taste to post-digestive effects through quality of life improvement in aging and diseased conditions. This will greatly facilitate intentional, focused and safe natural products based drugs discovery and development. The mass screening of plants in the search of new bioactive molecules / drugs is vastly expensive and inefficient and the main problem in new drug development and discovery is related to the high costs coupled with failures at the end. One of the meaningful approaches to reduce these costs would be recourse to the knowledge base and heritage available in traditional system of medicine like Ayurveda in India and other traditional systems of medicine world over. The organized drug development in India therefore, starts with collation of all authentic data available in all forms and moving up the value chain through a reverse pharmacology approach. Ayurveda-based drug discovery uses 'reverse pharmacology', in which drug candidates are first identified based on large-scale use in the population, then validated in clinical trials. Thus through this approach, the time for drug discovery can be reduced from 12 years to 5 years or less with considerably reduced costs. Thus considering the time tested potential of Ayurveda, it can serve as an innovative and powerful discovery platform for developing the newer, safer and affordable therapeutics, especially in the diseases where modern medicine either partially or fully fails to provide cure. Government of India has already launched some innovative multi organizational and multi-institutional projects wherein drug formulations in the following indications are being validated: 1) Osteo arthritis, 2) Rheumatoid arthritis, 3) BPHS, 4) Post menopausal syndrome, and 5) CNS etc. Under the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library project of CSIR in collaboration with the Department of AYUSH more than 53,000 Ayurvedic and 41,000 Unani formulations have been digitalized in to English, Spanish, German, French and Japanese languages to forestall contentious patent applications. The scope of this project has been broadened and work on the value addition with respect to the areas of Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, safety studies, Pharmacognosy etc. of plants used in these formulations has been started. Under CSIR co-coordinated programme on new herbals and bioactive molecules, 18 institutes of CSIR and 8 university departments are involved in bioresource prospecting and in the development and commercialization of bioactive substances from plant and microbial sources including drug formulations / combination of plants processed in a particular form from Ayurveda, Unani and Sidda systems of medicines. The New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) Herbal Project launched in 2002 under the auspices of CSIR envisages a fast track innovation driven development of herbals through contemporary science and technology. RRL Jammu has given a new concept of enhancement of drug bioavailability / bioefficacy based on clues from Ayurveda. Based on this, the development of plant based bioavailability / bioefficacy enhancers are targeted for drugs which are (a) poorly bioavailable (b) given for longer period of time and (c) highly toxic and expensive. The subject will be discussed in detail during the workshop.