A Seminar on “Emerging Trends in Bioprospecting of Phytoresources” was organized by the Chemistry & Bioprospecting Division, Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun on September 18, 2019 in the Board Room of FRI. This seminar is one of several progressive initiatives of the Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE), Dehradun with the intent to retrospect the research being done by the Council and fine tune future research perspectives in line with the contemporary trends and needs. Eminent scientists and academicians from leading institutions including NIPER, Mohali, IIT, Roorkee, BITS, Pilani, NBRI, Lucknow and representatives from State Forest Department, Haryana, and industries participated in the Seminar. Inaugurating the Seminar, Dr. A.S. Rawat, Director, FRI and Chief Guest of the event underlined the importance of phytoresource utilization and called for harnessing the vast phytodiversity of India that comprised of 14,500 plant species, taking into account the livelihood generation and sustainability. He further emphasized that the reservoir of knowledge that has been generated out of so many years of research should be beneficially translated into products and services for the use of society and industry for which inter- and intra- institutional collaboration is warrantable.
Speaking as the key note speaker, Prof. Sanjay M. Jachak from NIPER, Mohali presented a glimpse of paradigm shift in herbal drug research with focus on various aspects like lessons from traditional knowledge, greater emphasis on disease prevention rather than treatment and regulatory policies of the Govt. of India and other countries for development and marketing of pharmaceutical, neutraceutical and phytopharmaceutical products. Elaborating different neutraceutical formulations available in market, he narrated the clinical trials being undertaken at NIPER towards development of neutraceuticals from Curry patta, Mulethi, Chia seeds, Lemongrass, Isabgol, etc. Before this, Dr. Vineet Kumar, Head, Chemistry and Bioprospecting Divison, FRI welcomed the delegates and the participants, and briefed about the purpose of seminar. In his presentation on ‘Recent glimpses of the researches at Chemistry and Bioprospecting Division’ he comprehensively discussed the outcome of the ongoing projects, patents granted, technology commercialized and future research goals.
There were five lectures in the first technical session. Dr. Jagdish Chander, PCCF & Member Secretary, Haryana State Biodiversity Board, Panchkula talked about several important plant species for their applications in food and pharmaceuticals. He also gave an account of several fungal species having vast neutraceutical potential. Dr. D.G. Naik, Retired scientist from Agharkar Research Institute, Pune and presently Coordinator, Maharashtra Educational Society, Pune spoke on emerging horizons in utilization of phytoresources. He talked about the quality standards of medicinal plants and development of attractants of honey bees. Dr. Sunil Dubey, BITS, Pilani presented an account of the pharmacokinetics and studies of phytopharmaceuticals and discussed the numerous challenges faced during development of drugs from phytoresources. Dr. Manjoosha Srivastava from NBRI, Lucknow discussed about the industrially applicable plant based natural products. She specifically mentioned about the possibility for value addition to galactomannans, starches etc. and showcased her success stories of natural dyes, black hair dye, herbal gulal, biodegradable plastics etc. Further, application of electronic sensor technology for assessing quality of medicinal and aromatic plants was presented by Dr. Debrata Sircar from IIT, Roorkee. The session was chaired by Dr. Yogendra K. Choudhary from Ethix Pharma, Raipur, Chattisgarh.
Second technical session chaired by Shri Jagdish Chander was comprised of three lectures from industries. Speaking on the topic ‘Bioprospecting: Insights, Regulations, Outcomes’, Dr. Yogendra K. Choudhary discussed the Nagoya protocol for benefit sharing, the expectations of industry from research institutions and problems encountered in product development and subsequent technology transfers. Dr. Girish Kumar Gupta from Zeon Life Sciences, Paonta Sahib, H.P. talked about Industrial perspectives of bioprospecting to pharmaceuticals-A way towards commercialization. Sharing the products developed from plant resources for anticancer properties, he highlighted the challenges of formulation and regulatory aspects in phytopharmaceutical development. Shri M.M. Varshney from Flax Foods Limited Dehradun outlined an strategy for utilization of abundantly available yet poorly valorized byproducts of culinary herbs.
During the panel discussion representatives form academia, SFDs, and industry shared views and thoughts and extended suggestions. The need of expertise based inter institutional as well as institutional-entrepreneurial collaborations for conduct of need based research and generation of the effective and usable outcome in the interest of different stakeholders in consonance with socio-economic and ecological concerns were emphasised. The seminar concluded with the vote of thanks proposed by Dr. Pradeep Sharma.