Updated on 23 January 2013
Hope for diabetes patients: Leaves of the Costus pictus D. Don plant has anti-diabetic properties
Wouldn't it be nice if you could treat your diabetes by just eating one leaf-a-day, thereby requiring no insulin injections or any other medications? This dream can now be realized by the people residing in the southern region of India. Costus pictus D. Don which is also known as the insulin plant or 'spiral ginger', is a plant whose leaves have been shown to have a hypoglycemic effect when consumed. This plant belongs to family Zingiberaceae, which is also known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.
Dr Annadurai S Ramasamy, former research director, Genotypic Technology, tells BioSpectrum that on learning about this plant, he became curious to study its probable anti-diabetic properties and initiated a next generation sequencing (NGS)-based approach to sequence the C. pictus transcriptome in order to identify and characterize transcripts potentially contributing to the observed medicinal properties of the plant leaves.
Genotypic Technology, a Bangalore-based genomics company, is a pioneer in providing next-generation sequencing and microarray services. Dr Sudha Rao, chief operating officer, Genotypic Technology, mentioned to Biospectrum, that, "When Dr Ramasamy told about the benefits of the leaves of insulin plant, we immediately got excited to unravel the probable mode of action quickly using next generation sequencing.
The challenge is that the functional annotation of identified transcripts (or RNA) is key to elucidating the mode-of-action and this is a bigger challenge for plants. So the key highlight of this study was the functional annotation of the transcripts of C. pictus."
The data identified transcripts related to pathways of bixin, geranial and geraniol biosynthesis which are known to be peroxixome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR) agonists and anti-glycation agents. Interestingly, current PPAR gamma agonists such as pioglitazones are used as anti-diabetic medication.