- The use of Indian medicinal plants for drug discovery and therapeutics just received a boost. A database of such plants has been built by a Chennai-based team led by Areejit Samal of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
- Plants secrete various special chemicals to ward off predators, fight pathogens and survive in difficult situations. Some of these so-called phytochemicals have been used to prepare traditional medicines and also poisons. While there are extensive databases of phytochemicals of Chinese herbs, there has no similar work in India.
- The new database, named IMPPAT (Indian Medicinal Plants, Phytochemistry And Therapeutics) brings together not just the Indian medicinal plants and their associated phytochemicals, but also the latter’s 2D and 3D chemical structures, the therapeutic use of the plants and the medicinal formulations.
- Phytochemicals in IMPPAT also have high stereochemical and shape complexity similar to natural product library of Clemons et al, and thus, IMPPAT phytochemicals are also expected to be specific protein binders.
- Of the 960 phytochemicals, 14 have the highest druggability score, and one of these is Skullcapflavone I – This is produced by two plants, one of which is Andrographis paniculata, commonly known as Nilavembu or Siriyanangai.
- Another interesting topper is Kumatakenin, which is made by three plants including Artemisia capillaris. This plant is a close relative of Artemisia annuafrom which Nobel laureate Youyou Tu extracted the drug artemisinin which has saved the lives of many malaria patients.