The IIIM is also in the final stages of validating a new machine-less coronavirus diagnostics kit, as already reported by the PTI, which can help the country scale up Covid-19 testing.
“For Covid-19, we are undergoing clinical trials. In collaboration with Ayush ministry and industry, we are involved in it. Three to four clinical trials are going in different plant species with regard to Covid-19 drugs on 3 to 4 formulations,” Director CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Dr D Srinivasa Reddy, told PTI.
“If they (all the requisite trials) are successful, we can make medicines soon available”, Reddy said.
“We are definitely getting closer. So many research groups from across the world are giving their best to find treatment for Covid-19. Discovering new medicines is a very long and costly process”, he said.
The director said that repurposing already known drugs to treat Covid-19 patients is the best option under the present circumstances.
“Several academic and industry groups across the globe are continuously working. In India, in particular the CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) is a frontrunner in this direction”, he added.
Dr Reddy, who recently took over as the director of IIIM for next six year, said the first activity that IIIM undertook under him was testing Covid-19 samples.
“We started testing in the first week of April, in collaboration with Government Medical College (GMC), Jammu. We have completed over 40,000 samples till date”, he said.
“We are in the process of increasing the number of samples tested,” he said.
The IIIM is also in the process of developing a new formulation based on Zinc Gluconate and natural Vitamin C coming from Acerola Cherry for boosting immunity, he said.
“It is in collaborations with a company.”
He said that the development processes for Active pharmaceutical ingredients (API)as part of repurposing of drugs is underway and “our scientists have made significant progress on this activity and one of the processes has been demonstrated to an industry partner in Jammu”.
“We continue to work along these lines and start some new initiatives to address Covid-19 related problems. Our scientists and students rose to the occasion and contributed significantly in a short time”, he added.
Dr Reddy said that the IIIM laboratory is a unique place for discovering medicines based on natural products– everything is under one roof for plant based or new chemical entity (NCE)-based drugs.
“It has got rich biodiversity in the region which is known for medicinal and aromatic plants. It has a diverse scientist pool with expertise and experience from various functions. I see a lot of opportunities here,” he added.
He said that IIIM can lead programmes of national importance in addition to existing assets and expand compound or natural product extracts library and open it to others research purposes.
The IIIM can develop agricultural technologies and commercial cultivation in the Western Himalayas Kashmir Valley and Ladakh regions, he said.
“There are high-value medicinal and aromatic plants, (but) they seem to be facing problems in the supply chain, in particular, for the international markets. The IIIM can put more efforts in that direction”, he added.