As the Centre pulls out all stops to contain the spread of swine flu, an indigenous source uncovered by scientists to make tamiflu, the only indicative drug for the virus, is lying unnoticed.
A team of scientists from University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Bangalore earlier this year came out with findings that certain plants in the Western Ghats, a mega-diversity hotspot in South India, contain shikimic acid, the starting material and the "precursor" for making tamiflu.
"I am hoping that the Ministry of Health or someone (from the government) approaches us," Dr R Uma Shaanker, Professor at the Department of Crop Physiology and School of Ecology & Conservation, UAS, the Principal Investigator leading a team of over 20 scientists, told PTI.
The team, working on the project supported by the Department of Biotechnology, looked at 250-odd species of plants in the Western Ghats and found that some half-a-dozen of them had substantial amount of shikimic acid.
Shaanker said at least half-a-dozen bulk fine chemical producers, those from the pharmaceutical industry, and those who manufacture tamiflu by importing shikimic acid from China, have approached UAS to see our proposition.