The US patent office has granted patent to an innovative industry–academia research project that has led to a new vaccine adjuvant extracted from ‘Ashwagandha’, also known as Indian Ginseng, a medicinal plant used in Ayurveda as an immunity enhancer. The grant of patent will further the cause of development of far more effective vaccines meant for improvement of human immune system to counter various ailments.
The Union government’s department of science and technology (DST) had sponsored the research project which was jointly executed by Pune–based Serum Institute of India (SII) and University of Pune’s Inter–disciplinary School of Health Sciences (ISHS).
Executive director of SII Suresh Jadhav is the lead author while ISHS head Bhushan Patwardhan and SII research manager Manish Gautam formed the team of inventors. Additional research team included Sunil Gairola and Yojana Shinde from the SII, Dada Patil and Sanjay Mishra from the university.
Jadhav told TOI on Friday, "We are already in the process of developing new vaccines and the US patent will enable us the use the newly developed adjuvant right from the development stage of these vaccines. The new vaccine adjuvant has been found to be far more effective compared to traditional adjuvant. It has shown greater success in applications related to ailments like meningitis; diphtheria; and tetanus, among others," he added.
According to Patwardhan, "The application of this new adjuvant can be envisaged not only with vaccines against meningitis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis but also holds promise against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria." Patwardhan has described the project as a unique industry–academia partnership success story with a very high potential of applications owing to the involvement of the industry.
He said, "Newer vaccines include synthetic, recombinant or highly purified subunit antigens that are weakly immunogenic. Therefore vaccine formulations often require adjuvants for better immunological efficiency. Immuno–modulators obtained from different sources like synthetic, bacterial, viral have been used for enhancement of immune response to vaccines. Plant based products are being considered as one option for immune adjuvants."
He said, "The concept of rasayana in Ayurveda is based on modulation of immune response to provide better immunity and resistance to fight against diseases. Many extracts and formulations prepared from rasayan aplants have shown immuno–modulatory activity in various models. Researchers in health sciences have been actively engaged in establishing immunomodulatory activity of medicinal plants including Ashwagandha’,‘Shatavari’ and ‘Guduchi.’ Our studies indicate that these botanical materials have potential to be developed as immuno–adjuvants. As such, it was desirable to develop well characterized and highly pure adjuvant as compared to crude extracts which can be formulated with vaccines."
The DST had provided a total financial outlay of Rs 90 lakh spread over three years for the research project, which had completed in 2007 and actual development work continued thereafter at the SII. Following Indian patents, the US Patent application was made in 2009.
About the project
- The project was sponsored by the Union government's department of science and technology
- It was jointly executed by the Serum Institute of India and the University of Pune's Inter–disciplinary School of Health Sciences
- The US patent will enable researchers to use the adjuvant right from the development stage of the vaccine
- The new vaccine adjuvant has been found to be far more effective compared to traditional adjuvant
- Scientists say the adjuvant is applicable for vaccines against meningitis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis and also holds promise against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria
Times of India
10 Aug 2013, Pune, India