Ultimate goal of my research efforts is to discover therapeutic hits and leads suitable for drug development purpose, or for better standardization of therapeutically used herbal extracts. For such purposes, efforts are made to identify bioactive constituent(s) of plant extracts, natural products from botanical and non-botanical sources, and dietary supplements followed by to elucidate their molecular mechanisms of actions. Therapeutic areas of my major interest are mental health problems, neurocognition, neuro-metabolic and metabolic disorders and their interplay including co- morbidities encountered in patients with these disorders. In short, my major research interest is to be able to translate traditionally known medicinal uses of herbs and natural products in terms of modern concepts of evidence based medicine. Knowledge and know how evolving from efforts made to achieve this goal is necessary for triggering the interest of rapidly growing Indian pharmaceutical industry in proper exploitation of herbs/natural products/dietary supplements for health care purposes around the globe.
Basic principles of the methodology used in my research projects have been summarized in some of our recent publications. This strategy is an extension of the so called “Reverse Pharmacology” principle for defining bio-activities of traditionally known herbal remedies, whereupon special efforts are made to design the experiments on the basis of existing know how on the secondary plant metabolites and their derivatives and analogs. Appropriate uses (in collaboration with others) of modern information technologies are available with us for drug discovery purposes are now integral parts of our research methodologies. Hereupon, a broad spectrum of in-vitro and in-vivo pharmacological methods are used (and/or developed and standardized for our purposes), and attempts are made to correlate bioactivity profiles of herbal constituents with their abundance in nature or in a given type of plant extract. Thus, although pharmacological and toxicological studies are conducted in my laboratories, close collaborations with plant and analytical chemists are essential pre-requisites for obtaining better success in our research projects.
Till now, I have played a leading role in a translational research project focused on Indian variety of Hypericum perforatum . This medicinal plant, commonly called St. John’s wort in the western world, and has been well known since ages for its diverse therapeutic potentials. It is currently widely used in European and other western countries for the treatment of depression and other nervous system disorders. A comparative chemical evaluation of German and Indian varieties of Hypericum perforatum indicated that the concentration of the major active principle hyperforin was higher in the Indian variety, and that it is enriched in some other bio-active secondary plant metabolites in general not encountered in European varieties. These findings encouraged us to conduct pharmacological studies with a standardized extract of Indian Hypericum perforatum (IHp) during my doctoral research funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi under the supervision of eminent researcher late Prof. S.K. Bhattacharya (Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University). These efforts not only led to my PhD thesis, but also to several publications in peer reviewed journals. Interestingly, Taylor & Francis Inc., New York, USA was quite impressed with our findings and invited me to contribute a chapter in a book entitled Medicinal and Aromatic Plants-Industrial Profile, Volume Genus Hypericum.
Based on my doctoral research findings, Indian Herbs Research & Supply Co. Ltd. (Saharanpur, India) successfully launched a product viz. MoodOn ® (as a herbal antidepressant and mood enhancer) into the Indian market in collaboration with Bergen Healthcare, a division of Alkem Laboratories Ltd., Mumbai. Currently, MoodOn® is replaced by EnMood ® (http://www.indianherbs.org/mEnMood.htm) . In addition, during my employment with Indian Herbs Ltd., I have conducted numerous in-vivo and in-vitro screening studies with other standardized herbal extracts and poly-herbal formulations. I was also involved in their drug safety evaluation programs, which include toxicity study design, study initiation and monitoring for acute, sub-acute, chronic and dermal toxicity studies in rodents. I have also contributed in phase-I clinical studies and was instrumental in preparing technical literature necessary for initiating the clinical trials.
During my service at Lupin Research Park (a pioneer pharmaceutical company), Pune, India, I was one of the active team members responsible for performing efficacy studies and documenting the reports for filing Investigational New Drug Application on LL-4218 (an isolated herbal fraction for the treatment of Psoriasis) with the Drugs Controller General of India, New Delhi. Originally, this project was launched under the auspices of CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research), Government of India, named NMITLI (New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative) to realize the vision of developing India in Science and Technology.
I had the opportunity to join Texas Tech University, Health Sciences Center, School of Pharmacy, Amarillo, USA, as a postdoctoral research associate under the brilliant guidance of Dr. Jochen Klein (presently Professor of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacy at University of Frankfurt, College of Pharmacy, Frankfurt, Germany). There I was involved in pharmacological studies dealing with modes of actions of some bio-active constituents of therapeutically used extracts of St. John’s wort and Ginkgo biloba. Ultimate goal of these studies was to better characterize and define therapeutic potentials of major bioactive constituents of the extracts mainly used for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
During my tenure as an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University) I have successfully mentored 9 PhD and 26 Masters degree students. Based on my extensive research experience in translational and integrative medicine through pharmacological tools, I was able to initiate my own research projects. Hereupon, active participation of my ex-students at postgraduate and doctoral level in my research projects has to be greatly acknowledged. I was also instrumental to provide in-vivo study support for Vitango® (as an anti-stress) and Silexan® (as an anxiolytic) herbal products launched into the European and North American markets. I had peer reviewed 84 research articles for 16 SCI journals and was an Editorial Board member of 14 reputed journals. I was able to execute productive and innovative research collaboration with 5 pharmaceutical companies and 6 institutes/universities throughout the world.
Future Research Plans
The major goal of my research ventures will continue to be the identification of feasible means suitable for better standardization of plant extracts for therapeutic purposes. In addition, using the strategy mentioned before, I plan to obtain novel and/or affordable therapeutic leads from easily cultivable plants and other natural sources. Selection of these therapeutic leads will be based on their potentials for bridging the existing therapeutic gaps for many health problems prevailing in North America. Some such efforts made till now in collaboration with Dr. Shyam Sunder Chatterjee (Former Head-Pharmacology, Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co. KG, Karlsruhe, Germany) have led to several observations, which could be of commercial interest of many herbal research oriented phyto-pharmaceutical companies. However, these unexpected findings have yet to be given appropriate final touches through collaborative research for attaining sustainable commercial successes.
In view of my expertise and experience in the filed of endeavor, I want to establish a ‘Centre for Functional Reverse Pharmacology’ in the United States. The main objective of this proposed ‘Centre for Functional Reverse Pharmacology’ will be to identify phyto-therapeutics and drugs following the holistic principles of Ayurvedic health care system, and using postmodern concepts of network pharmacology and medicinal phytochemistry.
Bhattacharya, A., Muruganandam, A.V., Kumar, V., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2002. Effect of poly herbal formulation, EuMil, on neurochemical perturbations induced by chronic stress. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 40: 1161-1163.
Chatterjee, S.S., Kumar, V. 2012. Holistic Psychopharmacology and Promiscuous Plants and Principles of Ayurveda. American Journal of Plant Sciences 3: 1015-1021.
Edwards, D., Kumar, V., Nöldner, M. Stress-induced male sexual dysfunction in rodents and humans: Rhodiola rosea extract WS®1375 shows clinical promise. “18th Congress of the European Society for Sexual Medicine (ESSM-2016)”, organized by European Society for Sexual Medicine, Madrid, Spain. February 4-6, 2016.
Husain GM, Singh PN, Kumar V. 2009. Antidiabetic activity of standardized extract of Picrorhiza kurroa in rat model of NIDDM. Drug Discoveries & Therapeutics 3(3): 88-92.
Husain, G.M., Singh, P.N., Singh, R.K., Kumar, V. 2011. Anti-diabetic activity of standardized extract of Quassia amara in nicotinamide-streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Phytotherapy Research 12: 1806-1812.
Kiewert, C., Kumar, V., Hildmann O., Ruda, M., Hartman, J., Hillert, M., Klein, J. 2008. Role of glycine receptors and glycine release for the neuroprotective activity of bilobalide. Brain Research 1201: 143-150.
Kiewert, C., Kumar, V., Hildmann O., Ruda, M., Hartman, J., Naik, R., Klein, J. 2007. Role of GABAergic antagonism for the neuroprotective effects of bilobalide. Brain Research 1128: 70-78.
Kumar V., Agrawala, S.K., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2004. Behavioural studies on Hypericum perforatum formulations. Phytomedica 5: 19-30.
Kumar V., Mishra, D, Sinha, M. 2012b. Preclinical Toxicity and Clinical Study of ‘Garbhpal Ras’ in Pregnancy. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany (ISBN 978-3-659-20326-8).
Kumar V. , Naik, R.S., Hillert, M., Klein J. 2006a. Effects of chloride flux modulators in an in vitro-model of brain edema formation. Brain Research. 1122: 222-229.
Kumar, V. 2006. Potential medicinal plants for CNS disorders. Phytotherapy Research 20: 1023-1035
Kumar, V. 2013. Characterization of anxiolytic and neuropharmacological activities of Silexan. Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift 163: 89-94.
Kumar, V., Chatterjee, S.S. 2008. Ethnopharmacology and rational evaluation of herbal remedies. In: Handbook of Ethnopharmacology, edited by Prof. M. Eddouks. First edition. Research Signpost Publishers, Trivandrum, India. pp 25-50. ISBN 978-81-308-0213-8.
Kumar, V., Das, S.N., Rao, A.T., Agrawala, S.K. 2002b. Sub-acute toxicity study of NatHaem. Phytomedica 3: 83-89.
Kumar, V., Das, S.N., Rao, A.T., Agrawala, S.K. 2003b. Chronic toxicity study of herbo-mineral EHb. Phytomedica 4: 111-116.
Kumar, V. , Jaiswal, A.K., Singh, P.N., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2000a. Anxiolytic activity of Indian Hypericum perforatum Linn: an experimental study. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 38: 36-41.
Kumar, V., Khanna, V.K., Seth, P.K., Singh, P.N., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2002a. Brain neurotransmitter receptor binding and nootropic studies on Indian Hypericum perforatum Linn. Phytotherapy Research 16: 210-216.
Kumar, V., Markovic, T., Emerald, M., Dey, A. 2016. Herbs: composition and dietary importance. In: The encyclopedia of food and health. Edited by Caballero, B., Finglas, P.M., Toldrá, F. First edition, Academic Press (An imprint of Elsevier), Oxford. pp 332-337. ISBN 978-0123849472.
Kumar, V., Mdzinarishvili, A, Kiewert, C, Abbruscato, T, Bickel, U, Schyf, CJ, Klein, J. 2006b. NMDA receptor-antagonistic properties of hyperforin, a constituent of St. John’s wort. Journal of Pharmacological Sciences 102: 47-54.
Kumar, V., Singh, P.N., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2001a. Neurochemical studies on Indian Hypericum perforatum Linn. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 39: 334-338.
Kumar, V., Singh, P.N., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2001b. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of Indian Hypericum perforatum L. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 39: 339-343.
Kumar, V., Singh, P.N., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2001c. Anti-stress activity of Indian Hypericum perforatum Linn. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 39: 344-349.
Kumar, V., Singh, P.N., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2003a. Neuropsychopharmacological studies on Indian Hypericum perforatum Linn. In: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants-Industrial Profile. Volume Genus Hypericum, edited by E. Ernst. First edition. Taylor & Francis, London and simultaneously published by Taylor & Francis Inc., New York, USA and Canada. pp. 179-226. ISBN 0415369541.
Kumar, V., Singh, P.N., Jaiswal, A.K., Bhattacharya, S.K. 1999. Antidepressant activity of Indian Hypericum perforatum Linn in rodents. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 37:1171-1176.
Kumar, V., Singh, P.N., Muruganandam, A.V., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2000b. Effect of Indian Hypericum perforatum Linn on animal models of cognitive dysfunction. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 72: 119-128.
Kumar, V., Thakur, A.K., Chatterjee, S.S. 2012a. Obesity, cancer and psychopathology: can vegetarian diet be of help? In: Nutrition, Diet and Cancer. Edited by Sharmila Shankar and Rakesh Srivastava. First edition, pp 459-492. Springer Publishers, USA. ISBN 978-94-007-2922-3.
Mathur, A.K, Jain, A.K., Kumar, V. , Das, S.N., Agrawala, S.K. 2002. Clinical trial of herbal NatHaem in healthy human volunteers. The Antiseptic 99: 420-422.
Mathur, A.K, Kumar, V., Das, S.N., Agrawala, S.K. 2004. Phase-I study of IH-ADF1 in healthy human volunteers. Phytomedica 5: 31-36.
Mdzinarishvili, A., Kiewert, C., Kumar, V., Hillert, M., Klein, J. 2007. Bilobalide prevents ischemia-induced edema formation in vitro and in vivo . Neuroscience144: 217-222.
Mishra, S., Khanna, V.K., Kumar, V. 2008. Benzodiazepine receptor binding and anxiolytic studies on Anximin®, a polyherbal formulation. Journal of Cell and Tissue Research 8(3): 1491-1498.
Muruganandam, A.V., Kumar, V., Bhattacharya, S.K. 2002. Effect of poly herbal formulation, EuMil, on chronic stress induced homeostatic perturbations in rats. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 40: 1151-1160
Nöldner, M., Kumar, V. Adaptogenic activities of the Rhodiola rosea extract WS® 1375 in two models of stress-induced sexual dysfunction after oral administration in rats. “62nd International Congress and Annual Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research-GA2014”, organized by University of Minho, Portugal. August 31- September 4, 2014.
Shakya, A., Soni, U.K., Rai, G., Chatterjee, S.S., Kumar, V. 2015. Gastro-protective and anti-stress efficacies of monomethyl fumarate and a Fumaria indica extract in chronically stressed rats. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology. Published online on July 28.
Singh, G.K, Kumar, V. 2011. Acute and sub-chronic toxicity study of standardized extract of Fumaria indica in rodents. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 134(3): 992-995.
Thakur, A.K., Chatterjee, S.S., Kumar, V. 2013. Beneficial effect of Brassica juncea on cognitive functions in diabetic rodents. Pharmaceutical Biology 51 (10): 1304-1310.
Thakur, A.K., Soni, U.K., Rai, G., Chatterjee, S.S., Kumar, V. 2014. Protective effects of Andrographis paniculata extract and pure Andrographolide against chronic stress-triggered pathologies in rats. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 34: 1111-1121.