Research and development activities have always been important components of the organisational objectives of AVS. The Founder, Vaidyaratnam P.S. Varier, himself a pioneer innovator in matters of drug production and preservation, had in his reputed Will specified research as one of the objectives of AVS.
In the recent past, AVS is engaged in research projects in the following broad segments :
Recognising the crucial importance of medicinal plants in the sustenance and future of Ayurvedic science, AVS had initiated efforts to strengthen the resource base and the knowledge base of medicinal plants quite for some time, as a part of which medicinal plant gardens were set up at different locations. Subsequently, the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research (CMPR) was established as a dedicated research centre for undertaking advanced research in core areas. It was inaugurated at Kottakkal in 2003 by the then President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. It has been expanding the scope and reach of its activities and has now acquired the status of a centre of excellence for drug standardisation as accredited by the Department of AYUSH of the Government of India.
Over the period of 13 years of its very active existence, CMPR has acquired scientific skill and expertise as well as state-of-the-art infrastructural facilities, enabling it to undertake advanced research work focused on Ayurvedic medicinal plants. It is also recognised as an academic centre of Kannur University where students can register for Doctoral research. It has facilities for Postgraduate students to do project work on various scientific aspects of medicinal plants.
The major objective of CMPR is to address the medicinal plants related issues faced by the Ayurvedic drug sector and to enhance the inherent strength of Ayurvedic knowledge base with the aid of the principles and tools of modern science. Its functions include (a) exploration, collection, conservation and scientific documentation of medicinal plants of Western Ghats, (b) selection and propagation of elite lines and developing cultivation practices for enhancing herb resource base, (c) popularisation of cultivation through extension programmes, (d) molecular profiling and DNA finger printing for standardisation, (e) phytochemical standardisation and isolation of active compounds for scientific development of drugs, and (f) development of quality assurance practices for medicinal plants. Apart from in-house initiatives, several other important collaborative projects are taken up funded by National Bodies like ICMR, DBT, DST, NMPB, etc. Many research publications in peer reviewed national and international journals have come out of the research work carried out at CMPR and several students have completed their Doctoral research work in the CMPR Laboratories.
For more details please visit the websitewww.cmpr-avs.com
Clinical related research activities are undertaken by the Special OP of the Charitable Hospital. These studies are aimed at evolving and establishing new methods and procedures for dealing with difficult ailments such as cancer, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
A large volume of clinical data has been collected and are being analysed for validating the use of an innovative package of Ayurvedic medicines for giving palliation to severely affected cancer patients. AVS had collaborated earlier with the Pain and Palliative Care Clinic of the Calicut Medical College in a study to evolve a classical Ayurvedic modality to improve the quality of life of terminal cancer patients. The research outcome has been published in an international journal (Ref. 1).
In yet another study undertaken by AVS on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the use of a classical Panchakarma therapy procedure for treating Inter Vertebral Disc Prolapse (IVDP) has been assessed and the results are documented (Ref. 2).
The efficacy and safety of the new drugs being developed at AVS are established by conducting clinical trials. This is being done jointly by the R&D and Product Development Departments with the academic support of a professional clinical trial agency.
Concerted efforts are initiated by the Product Development Department in the area of developing new medicaments. There are two aspects to this project. The first is to develop new drugs to meet the demands of the evolving market as well as to meet the clinical needs of the practising physicians. The basic philosophy is to base all these efforts on textual knowledge and on the century old clinical experience of AVS. Several new drugs have been introduced in the Market in the past decade, which have been accepted as useful therapeutic aids by the clinicians. All the new formulations introduced from the new Factory Unit at Nanjangud have come out of these efforts.
The second aspect of this project is the improvement of the dosage form of classical formulations in order to enhance their user compliance. These efforts have succeeded in bringing out tabletised version of bitter tasting lique kashayams, encapsulated form of finely incinerated bhasmas, gel and balm versions of greasy tailas, and granulated form of viscous lehas. Pain balm, Pain spray, Rhukot liniment, Eladi cream, Talisule, Rasasinduram capsule, Kshirabala (101) soft-gel capsule, etc are just a few examples of this very important project.
The Ayurvedic medicine processing is an involved activity and it is highly time intensive, material intensive, and water intensive. Optimisation and rationalisation of these core elements are essential for improving the efficiency of drug processing as a necessary step to render Ayurvedic medicines competitive in the evolving pharma sector.
Various trials are carried out in the Pilot Plant of the Product Development Department in association with the R&D Department, QA Department, the Factory and the Engineering Department. As a result, several processing steps have been upgraded to improve the efficiency of the operations. These improved procedures are implemented in phases at the three manufacturing units. Such efforts are pertaining to kashayam preparation, drug granulation and blending, taila processing, bhasma processing, usage of hydro-alcoholic extracts, etc.
All these process improvements have been achieved by incorporating modern scientific and technological tools and methods while at the same time ensuring that the fundamental Ayurvedic concepts and principles are not compromised.
In this context, a reference could also be made to the on-going project that the R&D and QA Departments have jointly taken up to prepare standard Monographs to document the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Quality Standards of classical formulations for inclusion in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India. These Monographs are prepared based on controlled trials carried out in the Laboratory.
AVS has associated with apex National Research Organisations as a partner in collaborative research.
A recent study which received global attention was conducted at the Genetics Department of the Benaras Hindu University with the active involvement of the R&D, QA and PD Departments of AVS. It established the clinical efficacy and safety of the rasayana concept of Ayurveda as well as of the mercury containing Rasasindur. The findings were published in a reputed international open access journal (Ref. 1).
Yet another study in collaboration with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre established the absence of heavy metal toxicity in the case of the famous mercury containing medicine, Rasasindur. The study which employed modern scientific tools is published in an international scientific journal (Ref. 2).
Yet another study on the clinical efficacy of a classical Ayurveda formulation, Brahmarasayana conducted in collaboration with the School of Life Sciences of Manipal Academy of Higher Education has also been published internationally (Ref. 3).
AVS had earlier associated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and its various Laboratories in a study on the bioactivity of classical formulations.
All these efforts are a part of the academic endeavour undertaken jointly with National Laboratories to establish the scientific validity of Ayurvedic concepts and also to enhance the inherent strength of the Ayurvedic knowledge base.
These activities are undertaken either as in-house efforts or as collaborative projects in association with other Research Laboratories. The R&D programmes are undertaken by the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research, the R&D Department, the Products Development Department, the QA Department and the Special OP. The various projects have yielded very useful outputs which have been either adapted within the Organisation or have aided in strengthening the Ayurvedic knowledge base.
Vaidyaratnam P. S. Varier's
Arya Vaidya Sala, Head office
Kerala – 676 503,
Tel: +91 0483 280 8000
Fax : 91 483 2742572
E-mail : email@example.com
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