Extract from an Ayurvedic plant may provide the answer to Alzheimer’s disease for which no effective drug is available at present.
The Centre for Neuroscience of the Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bangalore, is engaged in research into this.
Revealing this, Centre Professor and Chair Vijayalakshmi Ravindranath said, P K Warrior of the Arya Vaidyashala of Kottakal, Kerala, had suggested to her an Ayurvedic plant. Finding that no new drug had come out to treat Alzheimer’s and that several drugs had failed in the last 10 years, the Centre had taken up Warrior’s suggestion to take a look at the knowledge-based Ayurveda, where one of the plants is found to be very effective.
“Herbal extracts are being examined by a team led by Dr Warrior at Kottakkal Ayurvedic Centre for their action on brain function, particularly with reference to behaviour,” she cited.
“Based on his suggestion, the Centre is now researching into this plant extract. In Ayurveda, the extract is semi-purified. We are trying to purify it further and reduce it to 2-3 compounds. Hopefully, we will have something in the next 2-3 years,” the professor said, while delivering D V Narasimha Rao Memorial Lecture here recently. Stating that aging brought several problems, Vijayalakshmi said: “Today, 25 million people suffer dementia worldwide. The number is expected to go up by 2025. As efforts to find out new drugs have failed, pharma companies have withdrawn their investments, having suffered losses. So, we are verifying some old drugs. As we get more funds, we will exploit the knowledge of Ayurveda for brain-related issues,” she said.
The Padma Shree awardee said: “One third of the disease burden in human population is caused by brain disorder, while the burden of infection-driven diseases is going down. Mental illnesses are under-diagonsed and under-treated. The present treatment strategies are symptomatic and the pipeline is virtually dry.”
Studied by research groups at many centres around the world, including the IISc and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in B’lore, the human brain has been understood more in the last 25 years than the preceding 100 years.
Modern imaging techniques like X-ray, CT, MRI, PET (Positron Emission Tomography)and others have contributed immensely in the study of the human brain, she stated.
“Brain is not a decaying organ. This organ, perceived as an information processor, functions on the simple principle: Use it, or lose it. It doesn’t replicate the external world but recreates an image of its reality,” she explained.
During interaction, the research professor said several psychologists were studying the effect of social media and virtual mode on younger generation. “In another 10 years, we will know about its impact,” she said.