Q. Why is this in news?
Recently, scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune have found the first synthetic route for producing flavonoids molecules related to the treatment of tuberculosis and chikungunya.
- ARI is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
- It is for the first time that scientists have been able to synthesize the flavonoid molecules such as rugosa flavonoids, podocare flavone and isoflavone in a lab.
- These three molecules have so far been isolated from plants only and are found to inhibit tuberculosis and chikungunya
Q. What are Flavonoids?
- Flavonoids are part of the polyphenol class of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Along with carotenoids (organic pigments), they are responsible for the vivid colours in fruits and vegetables.
- Polyphenols have historically been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and are associated with skin protection, brain function, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation.
- These are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits as well. A diet rich in flavonoids can protect from diseases related to heart, liver, kidney, brain and other infectious diseases.
Q. What is significance of the Research?
- Availability: It will ensure their availability at all seasons without the dependence on natural timings of the plantations.
- Uniformity: Inconsistency in natural products can occur in different seasons, places and species. Man-made molecules will have a uniform structure and medicinal properties similar to the natural product.
- Less-exploitative: Acquiring them from labs will solve the problem of over-exploitation of medicinal plants which puts an extra burden on the environment.
- Cost-effective: The development method in labs is simple and cost-effective as well.
Q. What are other possible use of flavonoids?
- Flavonoids can ease the lives of women who face problems in the premenopausal stage because its chemical structure is similar to the female hormone 17-beta-estradiol.
- Oestradiol is an oestrogen steroid hormone and the major female sex hormone which is involved in the regulation of the oestrous and menstrual female reproductive cycles.
- Premenopausal stage refers to the time when female bodies make the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the menstrual cycles and reproductive years.
- Preliminary indications and computational analysis show the capacity of these molecules to inhibit Covid-19 by targeting spike protein and proteases (an enzyme that catalyses proteolysis, the breakdown of proteins).
- Since flavonoids boost-up immunity, a flavonoid-rich diet is recommended to stay safe from Covid-19.