Neem tree may hold clues for HIV treatment
An Indian origin researcher, Sonia Arora, an assistant professor at Kean University in New Jersey has hinted that extracts from
Neem Tree, profuse in tropical and subtropical areas, may thwart the virus from
multiplying. Sonia Arora is delving into understanding the curative properties of the neem tree in
fighting the virus that causes Aids. She presented her data at a poster
session Sunday, April 22, 2012 at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego.
Her preliminary results seem to indicate that there are compounds in
neem extracts that target a protein essential for HIV to replicate. If
further studies support her findings, Arora's work may give clinicians
and drug developers a new HIV-AIDS therapy to pursue.
Extracts from neem leaves, bark and flowers are used throughout the
Indian subcontinent to fight against pathogenic bacteria and fungi. "The farther you
go into the villages of India, the more uses of neem you see," says
Arora. Tree branches are used instead of toothpaste and toothbrushes to
keep teeth and gums healthy, and neem extracts are used to control the spread of malaria.
Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, a form of traditional Indian
alternative medicine, even prescribe neem extracts, in combination with
other herbs, to treat cardiovascular diseases and control diabetes. The
neem tree, whose species name is Azadirachta indica and which belongs to the mahogany family, also grows in east Africa.
Arora's scientific training gave her expertise in the cellular biology
of cancer, pharmacology, bioinformatics and structural biology When she established her
laboratory with a new research direction at Kean University in 2008,
Arora decided to combine her knowledge with her long-time fascination with natural products.The neem tree beckoned.
Arora dived into the scientific literature to see what was known about
neem extracts. During the course of her reading, Arora stumbled across
two reports that showed that when HIV-AIDS patients in Nigeria and India were given neem extracts, the amount of HIV particles in their blood
dropped. Intrigued, Arora decided to see if she could figure out what was in the neem extract that seemed to fight off the virus.
She turned to bioinformatics and structural biology to see what insights
could be gleaned from making computer models of HIV proteins with compounds known to be in neem extracts. From the literature, she and her
students found 20 compounds present in various types of neem extracts.
When they modeled these compounds against the proteins critical for the
HIV life-cycle, Arora and her team discovered that most of the neem compounds attacked the HIV protease, a protein essential for making new
copies of the virus.
Arora's group is now working on test-tube experiments to see if the
computer models hold up with actual samples. If her work bears out, Arora is hopeful that the neem tree will give a cheaper and more
accessible way to fight the HIV-AIDS epidemic in developing countries,
where current therapies are priced at levels out of reach of many people. "And, of course," she notes, "there is the potential of
discovering new drugs based on the molecules present in neem." - Provided by American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Kolkata doctors patent neem extract to fight cancer
A neem extract, which fortifies the immune system and helps
fight cancer, has been patented by the Chittaranjan National Cancer Research Institute
(CNCRI). Developed by a team of scientists at the institute, who has
been working on it for the last seven years, the extract could soon be
turned into a drug once a clearance from the Drug Controller of India is
received. Final clinical trials for the extract could commence later
this year, according to CNCRI scientists.
"It seems years of hard work are finally going to yield result. The
patent has been cleared and we are working on the application to be filed with the Drug Controller. Among other things, we shall have to
prove that the extract has no toxic effects. We are confident of clearing the hurdle. Once that happens, clinical trials will follow and
it shouldn't be difficult to convert the extract into a drug," said Rathindranath Baral, senior scientific officer at CNCRI who led the
research. Others involved in the project include Subhashsis Barik, Saptak Banerjee, Atanu Mallik, Kuntal Kanti Goswami and Soumyabrata Ray.
Subrata Laskar of Burdwan University and Anamika Bose, researcher at the Bose Institute, assisted Baral for the
research. They had around 22 researchers and PhD students helping them.
The neem extract - a glycoprotein - was found to be strengthening the
immune system and helping slow down the growth of cancerous tumours. It
was successfully tried on animals by the research team. "We immunized
mice with the glycoprotein and then introduced tumours in them. The growth rate of tumours was found to be much slower. While drugs kill
cancer cells, glycoprotein strengthens the immune system by triggering
interaction between the cells. It is completely non-toxic and has no
side-effects. Our experiments have shown that the immunization helps
normalize the micro-environment around the tumour," said Baral.
The neem extract will not work as a vaccine, though. As a one-time
vaccine, the extract will not be effective, for, cancerous growths could
vary according to the place of occurrence. "Vaccines could be either
prophylactic or therapeutic. This one would be effective as a therapeutic vaccine. It can be used only after cancer has struck. Since
the glycoprotein strengthens immunity, it would be of great help to cancer patients who generally have weak immunity," said Baral.
Teatulia’s Neem Nectar Tea
Teatulia, producer of artisanal teas in Bangladesh is the first company to introduce a
Neem Nectar Tea, the brand is being recognized as a pioneer in the specialty food and beverage market, as well as gaining fans in the
beauty arena for the many skincare benefits of neem. Teatulia’s Neem Nectar Tea is a unique blend of neem leaves combined
with black tea to give the final product a distinct and delightful finish.
Being one of the larger tea brands carrying neem tea on the market,
Teatulia incorporates an abundance of healthful properties in each and
every cup of its unique neem tea. According to Ayurvedic medicine, which
has been around for several centuries, drinking neem tea provides many health benefits, including:
* Helps purify and cleanse the blood
* Used in treatment of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension
* Treats upper respiratory ailments (cough, cold, allergies)
* Reduces nausea and abdominal pain
* Used to counter ulcers and gout