Trials are to begin soon in six countries on a herbal preparation created by scientists in India to establish its efficacy in treating hepatitis B, reports the Hindustan Times. If the trials are successful, the herbal remedy could be launched in other countries.
The preparation is called virohep, and has been available in India for some time, the paper said. The new trials will take place in the UK, Italy, Germany, Korea and Thailand as well as India, and will aim to further establish virohep's efficacy against hepatitis B.
The trials might also test whether the preparation, made from the plant Phyllantus amarus, can help combat hepatitis C.
Research into the products efficacy against hepatitis B and C has been going on in India and elsewhere since 1979, and numerous studies have already been published. The studies showed that the preparation cleared hepatitis B virus in about 54 per cent of patients, according to the paper.
The preparation acts at four levels - it boosts immunity of the human system and has anti-viral, antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties. It also stabilises liver cell membrane and prevents their death.
Studies in the US showed the herbal preparation inhibited the synthesis of HB virus by suppressing the production of a molecule called mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid). The mRNA is required to synthesise DNA. When used against hepatitis C, the preparation helped in attaining biochemical normal status in 80 per cent of patients while 30 per cent lost HC virus RNA meaning disappearance of the virus, the paper said.
There are no known side effects of the preparation, and it is not thought to lead to the production of mutant forms of the virus, as is often the case with patients given the usual lamivudin therapy, the report continued.
The preparation is administered over a six month period, and patients who are cleared of the disease were found to have no recurrence of the infection even after nine years. After one-year treatment with lamivudin, virus reappears in about 50-60 per cent of patients, the paper said.