India, China to jointly work on herbal cure for diabetes

NEW DELHI: They might have their fair share of border disputes. But both countries agree on one thing for sure — the need for a herbal drug to combat diabetes.

This has made scientists from India and China join hands to develop the world's first Sino-Indian herbal drug against a disease that affects 90 million people in the two countries.

While India has shortlisted the plant, Gymnema Sylvetra, the Chinese just recently finished reviewing 250 plants to zoom in on one potential candidate.

Known locally as 'Gurmara Booti', raisins from Gymnema, found mostly in southern India and Madhya Pradesh, have been recommended for use for centuries in reducing blood sugar, glycosylated hemoglobin and glycosylated plasma proteins.

The project is headed by Ranjit Roy Chaudhury of the Indian Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN) in India. China is represented by endocrinologist Ji Yao Wang of Shanghai Medical College and Prof Tong Xia Olin from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

According to Chaudhury, both sides are all set to start the 18-month-long clinical trials to document the plant's efficacy and finalise it's exact dosage.

Around 100 moderate type 2 diabetics will be made to pop a pill containing the plant extracts twice a day and their blood sugar will be recorded at three medical institutes — PGI, Chandigarh, KG Medical College, Lucknow, and INCLEN, Thiruvananthapuram.

Indian scientists will compare Gymnema's efficacy to Metformin — the present day popular drug for diabetics. Dr Chaudhury said the scientists in India and China will conduct their respective clinical trials.

Finally, when the efficacy of the plants is established, the two countries will then combine the plant extracts to see if it becomes even more effective.

"Since Gymnema is already being used in ayurvedic medicine for diabetes, we won't have to conduct a separate study to see if the plant is safe. However, when we mix the Indian and Chinese plants to create a new allopathic drug, we will have to conduct a six-week toxicology study. The final Sino-Indian diabetic drug should be ready after a year from then," Dr Chaudhury said.

He said that the collaborative project will pool in the strengths of both the countries. While the Chinese are better in standardization of drugs and identifying plants, India is known for conducting highly effective clinical trials and identifying side-effects of drugs.

"We think this herbal drug will not have the usual side-effects of allopathic drugs like weight gain and cardiac problems. It will also protect the kidney," Dr Chaudhury added.

Asked why the project had taken time to start off, Dr Chaudhury said: "The main hurdle has been standardization of raw material. We want to be certain that every plant used is the same. We now know that if you collect a plant at different times of the year, you will probably get different levels of activity. So we ensured the plants were collected at the same time."

"We also know if you collect the same plant from different places, it may vary in its effectiveness. We are using only the leaves of the Gymnema. So we aren’t destroying the plant," Dr Chaudhury added.

In ancient Indian texts, Gymnema is referred to as 'Gurmar', which means "sugar killer" in Sanskrit. Gymnema leaves, whether extracted or infused into tea, suppress glucose absorption and reduce the sensation of sweetness in foods. Scientists say Gymnema increases the effectiveness of insulin rather than causing the body to produce more.

(The Times Of India )

No comments: