Can Cat Whiskers herb help treat COVID-19 infections? Two Malaysian-Australian scientists have been working hard and smart to prove the efficacy of herbal medicine which is found in Southeast Asia and some parts of Australia.
NatureCeuticals, a joint Malaysian-Australian pharmaceutical company has made significant progress in its botanical drug development for the treatment of Covid 19 viral infection by using a specialized extract from a popular local herb known as Cat Whiskers herb also known scientifically as Orthosiphon aristatus.
Scientists from the organization have been researching over the last 10 years the active phytochemicals of this unique plant which grows in many parts of Southeast Asia and the Northern region of Queensland, Australia.
The proprietary Cat Whiskers herbal extract formulation developed by NatureCeuticals known as Lanctos 75 TM contains powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant phytochemical substances.
A key active substance rosmarinic acid targets important biological molecules implicated in the Covid-19 disease process, known as angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (Ace-2) receptor as well an immune cell signaling molecule identified as Interleukin 6 (IL-6).
The ace-2 receptor has been identified as the receptor for the SARS-CoV-2 viral entry and IL-6 is an inflammatory mediator which contributes to cytokine storm, a hyper-reactive inflammatory condition that causes most Covid 19 fatalities. A pilot randomized placebo-controlled clinic study on 10 severe category Covid-19 patients on oxygen support showed significant clinical improvements when treated with the herbal extract formulation, compared to the placebo group.
Patients showed faster recovery time and improvements in several key parameters as assessed by a standardized ordinal scale. These include recovery in oxygen saturation, hemoglobin level as well as a reduction in the IL-6 level.
The results of the clinical study were presented by NatureCeuticals Medical and Clinical Research Director Prof. Dr. Aman Shah Abdul Majid at the recent Indian Antiviral Research Society International Covid-19 Research Conference.
Dr. Aman said, “vaccines have their critical role to play, however, research into antivirals and immunomodulators need to go hand in hand as this will help clinicians manage the complications seen in more severe patients”.
He added, “Government, universities and private industries need to step-up collaborative efforts to see through that the public gets safe and effective treatment options in dealing with the current pandemic both short term and long term”.
Prof. Dr. Aman who is also a medical professor at Quest International University School of Medicine in Malaysia mentioned that the proof-of-concept clinical studies carried out by NatureCeuticals were approved and conducted by prescribed guidelines set by the Indian regulatory authorities as well as the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to him, the research team from NatureCeuticals R&D company, Eman Research Ltd, based in Australia and Malaysia, discovered that the active phytochemicals present in their botanical drug were able to prevent the SARS Cov-2 virus from stimulating key immunological related pathways implicated in acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Prof. Aman said they had realized the potential of the drug against Covid-19 in early January 2021 when it became apparent that the drug which was developed for cancer treatment base on its anti-tumor properties, also targets similar biological processes SARS CoV-2 virus trigger to create havoc in the body’s defense system.
Based on these findings, NatureCeuticals was able to obtain approval to conduct early phase clinical studies in various hospitals in India. The clinical study conducted showed that Covid-19 patients receiving the drug had a shorter recovery time and showed improvement in several key biochemical inflammatory markers.
However, he emphasized that the findings are still at an early phase of the clinical study, and further robust clinical studies in a larger number of subjects are required to validate the effectiveness of this drug.
The company has also recently obtained approval to conduct late-phase clinical studies in India. At the same time, NatureCeuticals is also communicating with several government agencies to conduct clinical studies in Malaysia and seeking potential research collaborators for the clinical studies.
The CEO of NatureCeuticals, Dr. Amin Malik Shah said that if successful, it is hoped the product can help to complement the existing treatment available for Covid 19 to improve outcomes and at the same time help ease the burden on the health care systems faced by many developing nations. The company hopes to complete its clinical study before the end of 2021.