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City scientists offer ray of hope to Aids patients

Bangalore, June 30, 2013, DHNS : 1:16 IST

Find herbal formula to check virus growth, loss of CD4 blood cells

PTI File Photo. For representstion only.
Researchers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have found a polyherbal formula to be effective against HIV-Aids.

In a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, scientists at JNCASR outlined how the formula controlled the growth of virus and managed to keep the count of CD4 blood cells, an essential component to fight infections, from going down.

At present, there are no vaccines available for HIV and the researchers hope this discovery will march the foray into the use of alternative medicines for HIV-Aids.

Udaykumar Ranga, professor of molecular biology and immunology at JNCASR and one of the researchers, said, “In HIV-Aids, the main problem is that the virus causes damage to the immune system and the system cannot be rebuilt. We realised that the solution lies in giving the body something that strengthens the immune system. Simply put, since the problem of HIV infection is immunological, the solution must also be immunological.”

With this thought in mind, Ranga, with the help of Dr K Satish of Seva Free Clinic, set about testing the herbal formula which consisted of ingredients from 58 different plant species in a clinical trial with 32 subjects.

“The subjects were administered the herbal formulation orally for four months and monitored for two years,” said Ranga. To compare the results of these patients, 31 other subjects under the standard antiretroviral therapy (ART) were monitored for the same period.

Explaining further, Ranga says, “All the subjects at the beginning of the study were HIV-1 positive and had not taken anti-HIV medicines previously. The CD4 positive cell number in the blood was between 200 and 250 cells/microlitre, which is lower than normal.”

The results after the study were encouraging, they say. “In patients who were administered the polyherbal formula, the CD4 cell loss was remarkably low. In such patients, the expected loss is 60 to 100 cells or more per year. But these patients lost only 14 cells per year.”

Ranga said, “Neither did the CD4 blood cells count go down nor did the virus count go up. This confirmed that the polyherbal formula had been successful in controlling it.”

While the researchers are happy with the results, they say more needs to be done.

“Our study was only a pilot clinical trial, not a large-scale clinical trial. Despite certain limitations, the study has generated high quality data and also offered potential leads.
The beneficial effects, however, must be confirmed in future clinical trials that are rigorous,” he said.

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