Indian Researcher takes Nano-Ayurveda to the World

Dr Kattesh Katti, nanotech scientist at the University of Missouri has developed a “Nano-ayurvedic medicine” that was recently approved by the US Patents and Trade Marks Office. His development has opened up avenues to greener solutions in the biomedical field and has also paved the way to integrate different medical sciences together, specifically Ayurveda and Allopathy.

Dr Katti’s research focuses on the application of the fundamental concepts of science at the nano-level. He has been exploring the biomedical, chemical, magnetic and nuclear properties of nanoparticles to apply them in the development of diagnostic and therapeutic agents. 

Green innovations are in high demand and the concept of green nanotechnology is working wonders in providing sustainable and eco-friendly processes in all walks of life. Many industries are relying on green nanotechnology to design and develop their goods. In this article, we will focus on the application of nanotechnology in the medical field. 

Targeted drug delivery is a widely studied area of research especially in cancer therapeutics. It helps to reduce the frequency of the dosages to be taken by the patient, and there is reduction in the fluctuating drug concentrations in the body. Use of nanoparticles as drug delivery agents has proven effective since they provide high stability, controlled release of the drug into the blood/serum. Additionally, the drug remains stable until it reaches the target organ. Nanoparticles are manufactured via toxic chemical procedures. What if there was a “green” way to manufacture them. 

The focal point in Dr Katti’s research is Green Nanotechnology and is known as the “Father of Green Nanotechnology”. According to Dr Katti, phytochemicals from many plants are a reservoir of electrons because of their antioxidant properties. These phytochemicals are great sources of precursor materials to manufacture green nanoparticles. 

At the MU Institute of Green Nanotechnology, Dr Katti used gold nanoparticles to target liver cancer cells. He says, “1gm of gold to save 50 patients is a very reasonable estimate in terms of what it can do and in term of cost as this protocol becomes a pharmaceutical for treating human patients”. These gold nanoparticles can target pre-cancerous or malignant cells. They attach themselves to the cells and are then heated to a temperature that destroys them. This is a tremendous advancement in cancer therapy because there is no radioactivity, no toxic chemicals, no systemic toxicity to the patients. 

The concept of nanoparticles is well known in Ayurveda. Swarna Bhasma and Rajatha Bhasma literally translated as Gold Ash and Silver Ash are gold and silver particles with various herbal mixtures and have been widely used for over centuries in the treatment of chronic ailments. Rasa Shastra is one of the branches of Ayurveda which deals with processing of minerals and metals of therapeutic value. They are usually used in the form of Bhasmas (Ash). Despite being used for centuries, the lack of reproducibility hindering its universal acceptance. 

Dr Katti’s team has worked for over two decades to develop universally acceptable ayurvedic formulations with the help of green nanotechnology. They laid focus on gold nanoparticles that can be used in combination with phytochemicals from herbs such as mango, grape, turmeric, cinnamon, clove etc. These plants are electron-rich and the interaction between gold particles with electrons from the  above mentioned plant-derived phytochemicals produces well-defined gold nanoparticles. 

These gold nanoparticles are similar to Swarna Bhasma. There have been many studies that have shown the uncharacterised chemical features of Swarna Bhasma which impedes its global acceptance. The gold nanoparticles manufactured by Dr Katti has given Swarna Bhasma a new look and more accepting. 

This Nano-ayurvedic medicine gold nanoparticle drug was tested on in-vitro breast tumour cells and was also administered to metastatic breast cancer patients in a pilot human clinical trial conducted according to the regulations set by the Ministry of AYUSH. The study revealed that the drug demonstrated excellent efficacy in the patients with highly reduced adverse effects as compared to standard chemotherapy. Additionally, there was minimal systemic toxicity. 

These approaches are paving way for the union of Ayurveda and western medicine. This is reason enough for many more collaborations between the two schools giving rise to better overall health!