Home  |  About us  |  Editorial board  |  Search  |  Ahead of print  |  Current Issue  |  Archives  |  Submit Article  |  Instructions  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Login 
Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine
Users online:8 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size

  Table of Contents  
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 163-164  

Reverse pharmacology for antimalarial plants goes global

ICMR Advanced Centre for Reverse Pharmacology in Traditional Medicine, Kasturba Health Society, Medical Research Centre, 17 Khandubhai Desai Road, Vile Parle (West), Mumbai, India

Date of Web Publication12-Dec-2011

Correspondence Address:
Chhaya S Godse
Medical Research Centre, 17 Khandubhai Desai Road, Vile Parle (West), Mumbai - 400 056
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-9476.90763

Get Permissions

How to cite this article:
Godse CS, Nabar NS, Raut AA, Joshi JV. Reverse pharmacology for antimalarial plants goes global. J Ayurveda Integr Med 2011;2:163-4

How to cite this URL:
Godse CS, Nabar NS, Raut AA, Joshi JV. Reverse pharmacology for antimalarial plants goes global. J Ayurveda Integr Med [serial online] 2011 [cited 2016 Feb 10];2:163-4. Available from: http://www.jaim.in/text.asp?2011/2/4/163/90763


A recent issue of the Malaria Journal has been dedicated to the research and development of natural products for treatment of malaria. All the articles in the issue are interesting. The article on Reverse Pharmacology (RP) by Willcox et al[1] is of particular interest, which suggested that this transdiscipline of RP has global appeal. The RP path, as Willcox et al have rightly mentioned in their article, has originated in India for new drug discovery and is based on Ayurveda, India's ancient traditional system of medicine. However, the statement of Willcox et al supported by the reference of Patwardhan and Mashelkar [2] that "RP still involves classical pathway of isolating compounds for further development" is true only to a certain extent. RP in India focuses mainly on the development of Ayurveda-inspired standardized formulations, the safety, and activity of which is implied through its long history of usage. Several other paths may be considered for the development of drugs from Ayurvedic therapeutics and natural products, one of them is isolation and identification of active compounds. [3]

It was notable to see that Merlin Willcox and group have used RP approach to develop antimalarial complementary formulation from the ethnobotanical/folklore leads. In deference to African folklore uses of medicinal plants for fever, the Ayurvedic approach to Malaria (visham-jwara) makes use of diagnostic components (nidan) and Ayurvedic Pharmacology of Medicinal plants (dravya-guna-vigyan). [4],[5] Classical Ayurvedic descriptions of ailments and their management besides a long tradition of usage of medicines by Ayurvedic physicians form a basis for the selection of the medicine for evaluation through RP. Willcox et al evolved a standard score system to prioritize a plant from folklore practices. This includes meticulous analysis and scoring of ethnobotanical data for (i) frequency of citation of a plant, (ii) efficacy in vitro and in vivo, and (iii) safety and activity based on retrospective treatment outcome (RTO) study. [6] Ayurveda-inspired RP on the other hand provides foundation of long-term experience of clinical usage, Ayurvedic-pharmacodynamic rationale and evidence generated through current biomedical integration for the development of drugs.

Here we illustrate RP approach with respect to the Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Linn. (Parijat) for the antimalarial activity. The plant, indicated in Ayurveda for the treatment of visham-jwara is used by Ayurvedic physicians for recurrent fevers and hepatosplenomegaly. [7] Parijat has been extensively studied by our group through the three stages of RP (experiential, exploratory, and experimental) as defined by Vaidya ADB in 1990s. [8],[9],[10] Some aspects of this work were presented by Vaidya ADB at the International Workshop on Screening and Preclinical Development of Antimalarials at NIH, Bethesda. [11] The experiential study of the paste of leaves of N. arbor-tristis in 120 patients showed ~80% clinical and parasite cure. [12] The unique clusters of symptoms, namely, chills, rigors, nausea, vomiting, body ache of visham-jwara also showed a significant relief. Further exploratory clinical study with objective markers in 20 patients showed early clinical response with gradual parasitic clearance. There was a statistically significant reduction in the morbidity score monitored for the severity of the above-mentioned symptoms. Detailed biochemical investigations for organ function safety and for the mechanism of action were done in these 20 patients. Early clinical response was associated with increase in platelet count, decrease in lactic acid; the key markers of severity of malaria. There was also a significant reduction in circulating TNF-α and other proinflammatory cytokines with the given fixed dose of the paste. In this study at very early stage of RP sophisticated science was used as the disappearance of the malarial parasite was confirmed by the polymerase chain reaction for parasite DNA. [13] Early in vitro study conducted concomitantly during the exploratory phase showed antiparasitic activity against drug sensitive (3D7) and drug-resistant (Dd2) Plasmodium falciparum strains with nonpolar extracts of leaves at minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC50 25-35 μg/mL). [13] Currently extensive experimental studies have been taken up both for the development of standardized formulation and identification of compounds for both antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory activity. After systematic extractions of leaves different extracts and fractions are being further studied for antiparasitic and anticytokine/anti-inflammatory activities .

In India, pharmacology of medicinal plants from Ayurveda has evolved during the last century. The pioneering work by Sir Ramnath Chopra, an experimental pharmacologist, and Gananath Sen, an eminent Ayurvedic clinician, through astute observations indicated the need for organized research efforts. [10] RP is now getting formally established in India as an organized transdiscipline through efforts by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Advanced Centre of RP in Traditional Medicine under Medical Research Centre-Kasturba Health Society (MRC-KHS). However, perception of RP appears to be mystifying. The recent article, "Beyond Reverse Pharmacology…." by Lele, emphasizes a need of approach for mechanism-based screening of Ayurvedic drugs. [14] However, the experimental phase of RP does include understanding of mechanisms and use of advanced science. In the subsequent issue of JAIM, Namyata Pathak has rightly elucidated this through the "letter to editor" in response to the article by Lele. [15] Willcox et al have used the term RP for their work on folklore medicine. Here we exemplified Ayurveda-RP through our study of N. arbor-tristis for malaria to highlight the differences in the study by Willcox et al. Such communications are necessary for expanding the understanding of RP. Besides this, a recent, to be added national "ICMR workshop for Training in RP" conducted by MRC-KHS and state-level research fellowships in RP announced by the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) will certainly help to appropriately comprehend and further develop this transdiscipline of RP for Traditional medicine.

   References Top

1.Willcox M, Graz B, Falquet J, Diakite C, Giani S, Diallo D: A "reverse pharmacology" approach for developing an anti-malarial phytomedicine. Malaria J 2011;10(Supl 1) S8:1-10.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Patwardhan B, Mashelkar RA. Traditional medicine-inspired approaches to drug discovery: Can Ayurveda show the way forward? Drug Discov Today 2009;14:804-11.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Vaidya AD, Devasagayam TP. Current status of herbal drugs in India: An overview. J Clin Biochem Nutr 2007;41:1-11.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Pandit Kashinath Shastri, editor. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. 2 nd ed. Varanasi: Chaukambha Sanskrit Samathan; 1983.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Vaidya Anant Damoder Athawale, editor. Ashtang Samgrah: Induvyakhya Samhita, Shrimad Atreya Prakashan; 1980.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Willcox M, Benoit-Vical F, Fowler D, Bourdy G, Burford G, Giani S, et al. Do ethnobotanical and laboratory data predict clinical safety and efficacy of anti-malarial plants? Malaria J 2011;10 (Supl 1)S7:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Desai VG. Parijatak, in Aushadhi Samgraha, Part II. 2 nd ed. Pune: Rajesh Prakashan; 1975. p. 21.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Vaidya AB: Medicinal plants for malaria control. In: Symposium on Malaria Control in Rural Bharat, Organized by Harshamaya Sahitya Bharti and Bhavan's Swami Prakashananda Ayurveda Research Centre, at Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai, 17 th Aug, 1997.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Patwardhan B, Vaidya ADB, Chorghade M. Ayurveda and Natural Products drug discovery and development. Curr Sci 2004;86:789-99.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Vaidya ADB: Reverse Pharmacological Correlates of Ayurvedic Drug Actions. Indian J Pharmacol 2006;38:311-5.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Vaidya AB. Reverse Pharmacology and Fast Tracking of Natural Products. In: MR4 workshop 'International cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG) Program: Screening and Preclinical Development of Antimalarials', NIH, Bethesda, Oct 12-13, 2004.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Karnik SR, Tathed PS, Antarkar DS, Godse CS, Vaidya RA, Vaidya ADB: Antimalarial and clinical safety of traditionally used Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Linn. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge 2008;7:330-4.   Back to cited text no. 12
13.Godse CS. An Exploration and Putative Interventional Effect of Nyctanthes arbor-tristis (Parijat) in Malaria: Clinical, Metabolic, Parasite and Immune Changes. Ph.D. dissertation, Applied Biology, University of Mumbai; 2004.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Lele RD. Beyond reverse pharmacology: Mechanism-based screening of Ayurvedic drugs. J-AIM 2011;1:257-65.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Pathak N. Reverse pharmacology of Ayurvedic drugs includes mechanisms of molecular actions. J Ayurveda Integr Med 2011;2:49-50.  Back to cited text no. 15
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded457    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal