Researchers Hopeful on New Herbal Drug for Rheumatoid Arthritis

New Delhi, Dec 6: A team of young Indian scientists say they are close to zeroing in on an effective and side-effect free herbal treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis, a debilitating condition with very little effective treatment options.


More than one crore people in India suffer from this autoimmune disease, resulting from the body’s defence mechanism turning against healthy tissues.


Ankit Tanwar, 24, a toxicologist by training and the key researcher of the team, said they took up the project on behalf of the DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organisation) and Jamia Hamdard to search for the most efficacious herbs for Rheumatoid Arthritis.


In his presentation in the Young Scientists Conference at the ongoing Indian International Science Festival at IIT Delhi, Tanwar claimed they had developed, for the first time in the world, a mathematical model to find herbs best suited to make a potent medicine for Rheumatoid Arthritis.


Tanwar said the team first identified 50 potentially efficacious herbs from various countries and from various parts of India, and shortlisted 11 of them.


The team with the support of the Department of Medical Elementology and Toxicology of Jamia Hamdard (Hamdard University), Delhi, is now working to test their herbal formulation on mammalian models.


The results so far have shown that the new product could potentially not just prevent and cure Rheumatoid Arthritis, but would also take care of any opportunistic infections, which accompany the condition in the worst-case patients.


Severe cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) cause grievous suffering due to chronic inflammation, joint erosions and progressive bone loss. Since the molecular mechanism of rheumatoid arthritis is not well understood, the discovery of an effective treatment has remained elusive.


Fortunately, it is possible to detect susceptibility among people many years before the actual onset of RA. This also means that if proper drugs are available, the vulnerable person may be able delay its onset for many years and can also manage the disease well.


Suppressing autoimmunity by using painkillers, steroids and modifier drugs to check the progression of Rheumatic Arthritis and protect joints from further decay, may lead to toxic or unwanted effects over long term usage. These also risk opportunistic infections associated with suppressed immunity. Herbal medicines are therefore being widely explored as a non-toxic and effective treatment for the condition.


The Young Scientists’ Meet at IISF will see nearly 800 paper and poster presentations over three days on a variety of subjects.


IISF 2015 is being organised by the Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences in collaboration with Vijnana Bharati, the largest science movement in the country, with the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) as the nodal agency. 

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