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Plant with 'anti-ageing' enzyme discovered in Himalayas

Posted on Aug 03, 11:43AM | UNI

Scientists here have searched a green plant from the higher reaches of Himalayas which produces an enzyme that could work as an 'anti-ageing' factor.

'Scientists of the CSIR' Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology (IHBT) have discovered a green plant called Potentilla Atrosanguinea, from the higher reaches of Himalayas near Kunzum pass in Himachal Pradesh which produces 'Superoxide Dismutase' (SOD), an enzyme that is required to scavenge Super Oxide Radical in plant and animal cells and works as an 'anti-ageing' factor.

Disclosing this, Dr Paramvir Singh Ahuja, Director CSIR-IHBT Palampur, yesterday told reporters that this enzyme could be used in medical, cosmetic, food and plant industries.

He said IHBT scientists led by Dr Sanjay Kumar had been working on the project for the past one and half decades and ultimately succeeded in isolating the gene of this enzyme and fermented it through a process.

He said the scientists found the only plant species in Himalayas at an altitude of 4500 metres and started research on the plant as to how it was surviving despite freezing cold, high temperature and high intensity light.

Dr Sanjay Kumar, Senior Principal Scientist Biotechnology Division IHBT' said an enzyme SOD was found in all living beings plants, animals and human beings but in this plant it is a critical enzyme associated with controlling oxygen toxicity arising out of oxidative stress in any living system.

The SOD, isolated from the plant, was engineered by mutation of a single amino acid which had a unique property that it was functional from sub zero temperature to more than 50 degree Celsius and even tolerated autoclaving (heating at 121 degree C at the pressure of 1.1 kg per square cm for 20 minutes) and was resistant to proteolysis, Director P S Ahuja disclosed.

He said systematical analysis was carried out and an enzyme SOD, which detoxifies superoxide radical, a toxic species of oxygen, was identified.

He said this enzyme was required to scavenge Super Oxide radical in plant and animal cells and would work as an 'anti-ageing' factor.

Three or 4 US patents have been awarded to IHBT for unique properties of this enzyme and cloning the gene of this enzyme, Mr Ahuja disclosed.

Dr Sanjay said they experimented using this enzyme to enhance the shelf life of the fruits initially and it gave very positive results. Now, experiments were carried on the animal system on whether it could impart 'anti ageing' phenomena in them or it can improve the shelf life of the organelles.

He said this enzyme could be very useful in extending the shelf life of organelles, and was needed during cryo surgery, surgery of transplantation of heart, kidney, skin, liver, lung and Pancreas.

It could be used for the storage of cornea and in treatment of asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, wounds and burned tissues.

It could be used in creams, lotions and shampoos besides in storage process of the unprocessed food items, protection of plants against stress conditions like drought and low and high temperatures.