Coronavirus study: Potential treatment for COVID-19? Biologists at Indian Institute of Technology Mandi have said that they have found a Himalayan flowering tree that contains antiviral properties. According to a report in IE, the group believes that the tree could potentially be used in a treatment against COVID-19. Plant biologist Shyam Kumar Masakapalli of School of Basic Science at IIT Mandi has been studying rare as well as endangered plants found in the Himalayas along with his team since 2019. Masakapalli said that the team had some knowledge about the medicinal plants, and then they began to look at rare and endangered plants in the Himalayan region to document their phytochemical molecules.
What had begun as an idea to make up a library for future use in therapeutics, food industry, and nutritional aspects among others, led to the team taking a deeper look at these documented molecules once the COVID-19 pandemic started dominating the world come 2020. The research, which was published in Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics journal, saw the team scanning numerous plants for their phytochemical properties and molecules with the help of computational tests. The team initially did not succeed, with 20 shortlisted plant molecules failing the simulation tests.
However, once the Buransh plant, scientifically known as the red Rhododendron arboreum, showed encouraging results, the team took it up and analysed it further with the help of International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Delhi’s Dr Ranjan Nanda and Dr Sujatha Sunil. Experiments were conducted using hot water extracts of the flower, and cells that had been infected with the novel coronavirus were subjected to this extract in doses. They were incubated for 48 hours and it was found that it affected the multiplication of the virus, with a 1mg/ml concentration inhibiting the multiplication by 80%, the report cited Masakapalli as saying.