Despite the fact that several vaccine candidates have presented effective vaccines against the coronavirus, the search among the scientific community for a drug to treat the coronavirus and its aftermath continues. Researchers at Amritsar-based Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) have suggested that a Himalayan herb that can be grown in laboratory-like conditions has the potential to treat lung complications caused by the coronavirus. The herb called plant alone is an endangered plant and grows high up in the Himalayas at an elevation of 14,000 to 16,000 feet. While colloquially the plant has become famous under the name ‘Sanjeevani’ in the Leh and Ladakh region, the scientific nomenclature for the plant is Rhodiola.
Dr. Pratap Singh Pati from GNDU’s department of biotechnology was quoted as saying that the plant is effective in treating altitude sickness, cancer, anxiety, and especially inflammation, among others. Dr. Pati, a recipient of the Indian National Academy of Sciences (INSA) and a Senior Fullbright researcher at the University of Kentucky in the US, told the Indian Express that the rosavin that is released from the plant is a secondary metabolite important and effective in treating pulmonary fibrosis and other lung diseases. Dr. Pati further said that health experts are looking for a drug to mitigate pulmonary fibrosis, the plant alone may be one of their answers.
As is the case with many precious flora and fauna species, the plant faces the onslaught of climate change, construction activities and indiscriminate harvesting by the local population of the region. Dr. Pati said that due to these factors, the vital medicinal plant is on the brink of extinction. However, under the direction of Dr. Pati, a technology has been developed with the help of which the plant can be grown in laboratories simulating the climatic conditions of the Himalayas. Dr. Pati said that the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) approached him to work on the plant and multiply it in vitro about five years ago. He also said that the university team is looking for potential pharmaceutical players who might be interested in growing the plant on a large scale and producing drugs as a cure for lung diseases caused by the virus.