Key Research Areas

Drinking Water:

  • Clean drinking water has become a scarcity for over a million people across the world
  • TDU-FRLHT has demonstrated the effectiveness of the traditional practice of storing drinking water in copper pots
  • The practice helps to kill water-borne pathogens
  • As copper pots are expensive, TDU-FRLHT has created a cost-effective copper-based drinking water purification device (TamRas) that mirrors the effectiveness of copper pots
  • Currently, the device is being manufactured and distributed through community based social enterprise

Anemia Research:

  • More than half of the global population are anemic
  • Ayurveda considers iron deficiency anemia as a physiological disorder with deranged metabolism
  • Common herbs and plants like Ginger, Pomegranate and Amla are suggested as interventions
  • TDU-FRLHT has demonstrated how pomegranate increases iron bioavailability
  • A poly herbal formulation has also been developed that is useful in the management of iron deficiency anemia, especially in children and adolescents.

Ayurveda/Herbal Fumigation:

  • Ayurveda mentions fumigation as Dhoopana (Dhoopa = fumes; Dhoopana = fumigation)
  • Ayurveda recommends fumigation for improving general health and immunity
  • Research at TDU-FRLHT focuses on understanding the concepts of Dhoopana and exploring its applications in improving air quality, general wellness etc.

4th Tier in Primary Healthcare:

  • Less than 30% of the populace has access to Primary healthcare
  • Imperative to think beyond institutional model of health services to make healthcare affordable, sustainable and accessible to all
  • Knowledge, practices and beliefs of indigenous communities in relation to health that are culture and region specific, called Local Health Traditions, have been sustained across generations
  • LHTs are kept relevant in community through home based remedies and ethnic dietary practices through the efforts of traditional community health practitioners
  • This community based system of healthcare is called as the unofficial 4th tier in primary healthcare

Malaria Research:

  • Malaria is one of the major public health disorders in developing countries
  • Many currently available antimalarials are expensive and inaccessible to the needy populations
  • Research at TDU-FRLHT focuses on how medicinal plants can help in preventing malaria in endemic areas
  • Pre-clinical and clinical studies in collaboration with Prof. Dominique Mazier (CIMI Paris) and National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR Bangalore) are done to understand the safety and efficacy of the medicinal plants
  • Safety and prophylactic efficacy of a herbal formulation (Coded as TPMP74) was determined by us, and it was shown that TPMP74 helps to significantly reduce malaria incidences in malaria endemic areas of Odisha, India.

Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics:

Recent advances in DNA sequencing, molecular cloning, and gene editing technologies have helped us to discover, study and translate the biological life-forms. The data coming out from large-scale functional genomics studies need to be stored, analyzed and interpreted. This requires a high-end biological and computing facilities to cater towards the scientific community. India being a country having the richest biodiversity hotspots in the world, there is huge scope to decode genomes, understand and harness functionality of biodiversity through functional genomics and bio-informatics approaches. We carryout large-scale studies in relation to conservation and traditional medicine.

Our thrust areas include:

  • Microbiome studies
  • Functional genomics of medicinal plants
  • Molecular basis of traditional medicine
  • Data-science and bioinformatics
  • Training program on functional genomics and bioinformatics

Neurodegeneration:

Optimum development and functioning of the nervous system is very important for quality of life. Health of nervous system is indicated by good cognition, memory, and sensory-motor functions. Impaired nervous system function can manifest differentially, for example, as impaired memory, altered sense organ function, abnormal body movement -motor activities, speech deterioration etc. These phenomena are observed in age related neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Currently available heath solutions offer limited symptomatic relief and almost nothing for neurodegenerative disease correction or inhibition. Research suggests that healthy life style and use of nootropic food and neutraceuticals can enhance health of nervous system and prevent occurrence of diseases including neurodegenerative disorders. However, wider and intensive application of these healthcare solutions requires meticulous scientific analysis including research on mechanism of action.

Ayurveda offers Rasayana therapy for longer healthspan and lifespan. It is often prescribes it for prevention, restriction and cure of diseases. Rasayana therapy includes drugs, therapeutic interventions, diet and lifestyle advices. A category of Rasayana called Medhyarasayana (Ayurvedic nootropics) are indicated for optimal functioning of nervous system as evidenced by enhanced cognition. Common Medhyarasayana herbs include Brahmi (Bacopa Monneiri), Mandookaparni (Centella asiatica Linn.), Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pleuricaulis Chois), Yastimadhu (Glycirrhiza glabra Linn.), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia (Thunb. Miers), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Kapikachhu (Mucuna prurience), Jyotishmati (Celestrus paniculatus) and Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi). These Medhyarasayana herbs are widely used as neurotonic for enhanced cognition/memory as well as for treatment of disease by Ayurvedic vaidya, but the scientific data for efficacy and mode-of-action of these herbs is very scanty.

Our group at TDU is involved in research on Medhyarasayana. We work very closely with clinicians and ayurvedic experts for selecting appropriate assays and designing the experiments. Our research is aimed at understanding of mode of action of select Medhyarasayana at cellular and molecular level. In neuronal disease models, the group focuses on Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

We use a non-parasitic nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans , as a model system for research. C. elegans offers many advantages as a research tool. It shows high genomic homology with human beings making it a relevant model for pharmacological research for human health. Further, it offers practical advantages because of its small size, short life cycle, well-developed nervous system, transparent body and availability of many transgenic strains and genetic tools.

Research from our group is mainly focused on,

  1. Understanding memory enhancing effect of traditional Medhyarasana formulations eg. Brahmi warasa (juice) and Brahmi Ghrita (ghee)
  2. Mechanism of action underlying therapeutic effect of different formulations of Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi), Sida cordifolia (Bala), Centella asiatica (Mandookaparni), Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha), Clitoria ternatea (Shankhapushpi) and Mucuna pruriens (Kapikachu) in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease

© 2018 TDU, Bengaluru.