Researchers Sequence Genome of Herb, Giloy
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER)-Bhopal have sequenced the genome of Giloy, a medicinal herb that is extensively used in allopathic pharmaceuticals and ayurvedic formulations to treat various health conditions.
Giloy is an important multipurpose medicinal plant in Ayurvedic science. It has been used in various health conditions due to its immune-modulatory, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-cancer properties, among others.
It is extensively used in skin diseases, urinary tract infections, and the treatment of dental plaque. It is also found to reduce the clinical symptoms in HIV-positive patients and its antioxidant activity has anti-cancer and chemo-protective properties. Giloy extracts are found to be potential candidates in treating various cancers like brain tumours, breast cancer, and oral cancer, as well. The plant has come into the limelight recently due to its immunomodulatory and antiviral activity after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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A key aspect of the study is that this is the first species ever sequenced from the Menispermaceae plant family, which comprises more than 400 species having therapeutic values. It will help in various comparative genomic studies and will act as a reference for the future species sequenced from its genus and family.
This research was undertaken by MetaBioSys Group in the Institute, which focuses on the Indian microbiome including gut, scalp, and skin microbiomes in healthy and diseased individuals. They also work on sequencing and functional analysis of novel eukaryotic and prokaryotic genomes by developing and employing new machine learning-based software for big data biological analysis.
The research team was led by Dr.Vineet K. Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, and comprised Ms. Shruti Mahajan and Mr. Abhisek Chakraborty, PhD Students, and Ms. TitasSil, BS-MS Student. A report on the work has been published in the international preprint server for biology bioRxiv.
The scientists noted that previous studies have shown that a compound from Giloy targeted two proteases of the SARS-CoV-2 virus namely Mpro and Spike proteases, and another compound was predicted to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and also disrupts viral spike protein and host ACE-2 interaction.
The multiple medicinal properties of the herb are because of the presence of its secondary metabolites. Despite these medicinal properties, the unavailability of its genome sequence was a constraint in studying the genomic basis of the medicinal properties. Thus, the genome sequence of Giloy could be a breakthrough as the potential therapeutic agent for diseases like COVID in the future.