For the first time ever, a team of 25 scientists from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, have deciphered the entire genetic make up of the widely worshipped tulsi plant.
The medicinal plant is known to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-pyretic and anti-cancer properties, but with the genome laid out, scientists will know exactly which gene is responsible in healing cancer and other diseases and will be used in making targeted drugs.
So the study opens up a horizon for commercial exploitation of the medicinally important compounds. Since the genes that have anti-cancer properties are now known, we can engineer yeast with enzymes from tulsi to make medicinally important molecules that are normally made in tulsi.
– S. Ramaswamy, Co-author, Professor, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
The scientists have concluded that the plant has 40 special medicinal properties.
The medicinal properties of tulsi are attributed to specialized compounds produced as a part of its defence mechanism. These compounds are called ‘metabolites’ because they are a by-product of the plant’s metabolism.
The plant’s therapeutic properties have been discussed at great length in ancient Ayurveda texts in India as well.
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