Even as several vaccine candidates have come out with effective vaccines against Coronavirus, the hunt among the scientific community for a medicine to treat Coronavirus and its aftereffects continues. Researchers at Amritsar-based Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) have suggested that a Himalayan herb which can be grown in lab-like conditions has the potential to treat lung complications caused by Coronavirus. The herb which is called solo plant is an endangered plant and grows at the high altitude of Himalayas at the height of 14,000 to 16,000 feet. While colloquially the plant has become famous with the name ‘Sanjeevani’ in Leh and Ladakh region, the scientific nomenclature of the plant is Rhodiola.
GNDU Biotechnology department’s Dr Pratap Singh Pati was quoted as saying that the plant is effective in treating high altitude sickness, cancer, anxiety, and importantly inflammation among others. Dr Pati who is an Indian National Science Academy (INSA) awardee and Fullbright Senior Research Fellow at the University of Kentucky in USA told the Indian Express that Rosavin which is released from the plant is an important secondary metabolite and effective in treating pulmonary fibrosis and other lung diseases. Dr Pati further said that the health experts are looking for a drug to mitigate the pulmonary fibrosis, the solo plant can be one of their answers.
As is the case with many precious flora and fauna, the plant is facing the onslaught of climate change, construction activities, and indiscriminate harvesting by local people of the region. Dr Pati said that due to these factors, the vital medicinal plant is on the verge of extinction. However, under the guidance of Dr Pati, a technology has been developed with the help of which the plant can be grown in laboratories by simulating the Himalayan climatic conditions. Dr Pati said that he was approached by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) to work on the plant and multiply it in vitro about five years ago. He also said that the team at the university are looking at potential pharma players who might be interested in growing the plant at a large scale and produce medicine as a cure against lung diseases caused by the virus.