Scientists claim chemicals in Kangra tea could lower coronavirus activity better than HIV drugs | India News

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NEW DELHI: Chemicals in Kangra tea could be effective in boosting immunity as they can block coronavirus activity better than anti-HIV drugs, claimed the CSIR’s Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT).
“Using computer-based models, the scientists screened 65 bioactive chemicals or polyphenols that could bind to a specific viral protein more efficiently than commercially available anti-HIV drugs approved for treating Covid-19 patients,” said Sanjay Kumar, director of the Palampur-based IHBT.
He said, “These chemicals might block the activity of the viral protein that helps the virus to thrive inside human cells.”
The science and technology ministry on Saturday flagged these points, published by India Science Wire (ISW) – an in-house news service of the ministry under the department of science and technology (DST).
It, while underlining these properties in Kangra tea, sought to explain how it could also be effective in boosting immunity. Such revelation comes at a time when the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), as claimed by ISW, is likely to replace hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) with anti-HIV drugs to improve immunity and possibly reduce viral replication in its revised protocol.
Kumar told TOI that since the scientists at IHBT have, so far, merely screened those chemicals using computer-based models, they would now go for live evidence at CSIR’s facilities. “We have now got a lead. We will now carry out further validation study,” he said.
Findings of the scientists have already been published in a peer-reviewed journal – Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics.
Besides Kumar, other scientists of this research paper – Identification of bioactive molecules from tea plant as SARS-CoV-2 main protease inhibitors – are Vijay Kumar Bhardwaj, Rahul Singh, Jatin Sharma, Vidya Rajendran and Rituraj Purohit.
Kumar said the tea extract was important constituent in the recently developed hand sanitiser and herbal soaps which are in great demand for preventing spread of Covid-19.
The findings on Kangra tea comes days after an earlier research study where Indian and Japanese scientists claimed that Ashwagandha – a popular herb in Ayurveda – may hold an efficient anti-Covid-19 drug.
The finding on Ashwagandha was a result of a collaborative research study by India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT)-AIST International Laboratory for Advanced Biomedicine (DAILAB) at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD) and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan.
The study provides direct hint to Ashwagandha’s anti-viral activities when combined in appropriate proportions with New Zealand’s Propolis.
“The team has reported that natural compounds from Ashwagandha and Propolis have the potential to be effective anti-Covid-19 drug candidates,” said a science ministry’s paper on efforts of its different institutions towards finding solutions against the pandemic.
Referring to the study, it said the findings may not only connect to save time and cost required for screening for anti-Covid-19 drugs but may also offer some “preventive and therapeutic value” for the management of fatal novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Notably, DAILAB teams at IIT Delhi and AIST Japan have been working on natural compounds from Ashwagandha and Propolis for last several years,” said the ministry.

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