Potential applications of bioactive compounds from Moringa oleifera as promising antiviral agent against COVID-19


Moringa genus has 13 species belonging to the monogeneric Moringaceae family. Among these species, Moringa oleifera (drumstick) is the best known and native to northwest India (grows wild in the foothills of Himalayas) and also cultivated in other parts of the Indian subcontinent, tropical Asia, Africa, Madagascar, North and South America. M. Oleifera is a drought-tolerant, deciduous-to-evergreen fast-growing medium-sized tree and can be easily propagated by seeds or stem cuttings. Its multifarious applications in medicine have earned it the epithets ‘Miracle Tree’ and ‘Mother’s Best Friend’. Recently Prof. Kothari published a review in Journal of Herbal Medicine (2018) on the ‘Nutritional and medicinal applications of Moringa oleifera’ highlighting the current status and future possibilities. WHO has also emphasized the need to promote research on deciphering the role of bioactive compounds in human health. Although several studies have reported the efficacy of the extracts from different parts of M. Oleifera against viruses like HIV, HSV, HBV, EBV, FMDV, and NDV, they are largely anecdotal due to lack of empirical evidence. Recently in 2015, a high-quality reference genome of M. Oleifera was published, which has now provided a much-needed impetus towards deciphering the molecular basis of the intricate biochemical pathways involved in the synthesis of bioactive compounds. The production of the potent bioactive compounds can now potentially be augmented by employing biotechnological interventions such as CRISPR-mediated genome editing. Since the beginning of 2020, there has been a global effort towards expediting the development of the vaccines and/or drugs to combat the menacing pandemic COVID-19. We strongly feel that there is an urgent need for detailed studies on the mode of action of bioactive compounds against viruses including COVID-19 by fostering collaborative efforts between AUR and other institutes in the country and with financial support from DBT and/or DST.

Legend to inset Fig. Morpho-reproductive traits of M. oleifera Lam. (A) Tree growing in a natural habitat, (B) Gum exudated from the cut portion of stem, (C) Tripinnate leaf, (D) Mature flower buds, (E) Flowering twig, (F) Flower, (G) Dissected petals and sepals, (H) Stamen and the inset shows the green autofluorescence of the pollen grain visualized by the fluorescence microscopy, (I) Pistil, (J) Ovary, (K) Longitudinal section of the ovary, (L) Crosssection of the ovary, and (M) Fruits and the inset shows the whitish papery-winged seed

Ajay Jain and SL Kothari

Amity University Rajasthan