The petals of ‘Himalayan Buransh’ (rhododendron arboreum) can stop the growth of COVID-19. Petals have been a local delicacy for a long time, but now they are being looked at first. People who eat a lot of buransh petals have a lot of quinic acid in them, which stops the COVID-19 virus from growing up to 80%.
- Indian researchers have found that the petals of Himalayan Buransh (rhododendron arboreum) can stop the growth of COVID-19.
- This was shown in a test that was done on COVID-19-infected vero. This study find out what it could mean for people with Coronavirus. E6 cells, which are cells from an African monkey’s kidney that can be used to study how bacteria and viruses spread, were used in this study.
- Work on this compound could take up to a year before it is clear if a tablet or spray-form cure can be made.
A routine study of phytochemicals (chemical compounds produced by plants to aid their defense against fungi, viruses, and predators) in Himalayan plants led Indian researchers to an intriguing discovery.
According to researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi, the petals of the common plant ‘Himalayan Buransh’ (rhododendron arboreum) can inhibit COVID-19 replication.
This was demonstrated in an experiment using COVID-19-infected vero E6 cells (cells from the kidney of an African monkey that are commonly used to study the infectivity of bacteria and virus).
Since 2019, Dr Shyam Kumar Masakapalli, associate professor, BioX Centre, School of Basic Science, IIT Mandi, and his team have been researching to understand better the Himalayan flora, which includes rare, endangered, aromatic, and medicinal plants.
Their ultimate goal was to create a Himalayan Phytochemical Library that would aid in the understanding of plant-derived compounds that could be used to combat specific diseases.
With the pandemic set to begin in 2020, they accelerated their efforts to identify plant-derived compounds with anti-COVID-19 activity.
The properties of Himalayan Buransh petals are being studied for the first time, even though the petals have been a local delicacy for centuries.
While the leaves are poisonous, the petals are edible. Additionally, it is sold as squash, intended to act as a coolant during the summer. Computational and biochemical analyses were carried out using phytochemicals extracted from these petals.
The researchers discovered that hot water extracts of the petals were high in quinic acid and its derivatives.
“Molecular dynamics studies revealed that these phytochemicals exert antiviral activity in two distinct ways. They covalently linked to the primary protease – an enzyme critical for viral replication – and to the Human Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme-2 (ACE2), which facilitates viral entry into host cells”.
Dr Shyam Kumar explained how the test was conducted, stating that the cells derived from the monkey liver were first exposed to the COVID-19 virus, which caused some cells to die and the virus to multiply.
However, when the plant-derived compound was added (in various concentrations), the viral load decreased, and the virus’s impact was reduced by up to 80%.
“A combination of phytochemical profiling, computer simulations, and in vitro anti-viral assays demonstrated that extracts from the Buransh petals inhibited the replication of the COVID-19 virus in a dose-dependent manner,” said Dr Sujatha Sunil of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi.
However, it will take up to a year of work to determine conclusively whether this compound can be used to develop a cure (in tablet or spray form) for COVID-19. This process entails additional research, experiments, and clinical trials.