With increasing demand for alternate traditional medicines and therapy in domestic and global market, Union Ministry of Ayush and country's premier research agency, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), have joined hands for cooperation in research and education in areas of herbal drugs and its integration with modern science for their wider acceptance.
As per the pact inked between the two organisations, stress will be on to pursue R&D covering fundamental research; ayush specific diagnostic tools; linking micro-biome, gene expression and prakriti; multi-ingredient herbal formulations, including their standardisation; exploring modern scientific methods for integration with traditional drugs and linking disease signatures among others.
The collaboration in preserving and protecting traditional knowledge related to the Indian systems of healthcare will also be strengthened, through the existing TKDL platform and development of international standardized terminologies (disease-morbidity codes) in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU), database on medicinal plants, foods, etc, said a senior official from the Ministry.
The MoU was signed by Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Ayush Secretary and Dr Shekhar C Mande, Director General, CSIR in the presence of senior officials from both the organisations.
Kotecha said that in view of the growing interest of traditional medicines worldwide, there is a need of multipronged and innovative approaches for the acceptance of this science. He further said that the combination of traditional healthcare and modern basic science has a huge possibility to do innovative and path-breaking researches which can be used for the explanation of various basic concepts.
Dr Mande pointed out that enhancing the collaboration through joint R&D efforts ranging from fundamental science to validation and thereafter product development, will significantly help in the growth of the Indian contributions to this important sector, not only nationally but internationally as well. Futuristic efforts of this inter-ministerial cooperation shall include pursuit of data mining & analytics and artificial intelligence to enable and facilitate concepts such as "Traditional knowledge inspired drug discovery and development" and "Food as Medicine".
In fact, various labs under the CSIR had already taken initiatives in this direction in the past too.
For instance, anti-diabetic herbal drug BGR-34 has been developed by two CSIR laboratories - The Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) and the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI). Approved by the Ayush Ministry, BGR-34 is being marketed by Delhi-based AIMIl Pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, the CSIR's yet another laboratory, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB), Hyderabad have inked pact with Ghaziabad-based Indian Pharmacopeia Commission (IPC) of the Union Health Ministry to facilitate the regulatory process for biosimilars and herbal drugs.
The scope of the MoU is development of biopharmaceutical reference standards and impurities therein, development of monographs for important Monoclonal Antibodies and identification of herbal drugs based on DNA Barcode analysis, a CCMB statement said.
Use of biologics - biological products that function as drugs against diseases - also known as biosimilars, are expanding their presence rapidly in the healthcare sector, including in India. As per a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the biosimilars market in India, that is currently worth about Rs 15,000 crore, is expected to cross the staggering Rs 2,50,000 crore-mark by 2030.