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Ashwagandha could help fight COVID-19, says IIT-Delhi

By: Team Ifairer | Posted: 19-05-2020
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Ashwagandha could help fight COVID-19, says IIT-Delhi
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Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir, Ritonavir, APN01 or Favilavir are being tested in clinical trials across the globe. No therapy has been found to be effective against Covid-19 as of now. However, natural compounds from Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Propolis could be potential drug candidates against Covid-19. It is revealed in a collaborative study of DAILAB at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan.

DAILAB is an international laboratory formed out of the collaboration between the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan. The acronym DAILAB stands for DBT-AIST International Laboratory for Advanced Biomedicine. DAILAB has been working on natural compounds from Ashwagandha and Propolis for the past several years. It has explored the possibility of some of their bio-actives to interact with severe acute respiratory syndrome-CoronaVirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). This study has just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics.

The researchers targeted the main SARS-CoV-2 enzyme for splitting proteins, known as the Main protease (Mpro). Mpro plays a key role in mediating viral replication. This is an attractive drug target for this virus, and as humans don't naturally have this enzyme, compounds that target Mpro are likely to have low toxicity. They discovered that a natural compound Withanone (Wi-N) derived from Ashwagandha and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE), an active ingredient of New Zealand Propolis, has the potential to interact with and block the activity of Mpro.

Researchers have also studied the capability of these bio-actives to modulate the protein on the surface of human cells, to which SARS-CoV-2 binds and allows its entry into our cell - the transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), and selected Withanone. The study is currently under review and is expected to be published shortly.
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