3.2 Drugs from Sea

The National Project on Drugs from Sea taken up by the Department during 1990-91, is a multi- institutional project aiming at developing potential drugs and chemicals from the marine flora and fauna. During the period 15 new marine flora and 53 fauna were collected for general biological screening and repeat collection of 76 flora and 40 fauna was made for confirmation of biological activity and follow-up studies that have yielded valuable clues for developing potent drugs. This project which will be entering Phase IV in 1999-2000, has led to identification of six marine organisms showing potent activity as anti- diabetic/anti-diarrhoeal, anti-hyperlipidaemic, anti-anxiety, anti-cholesterol, anti-bacterial and larvicidal agents.

During 1998-99, the extract for anti-diabetic drug was subjected to accelerated stability and shelf life studies. Chronic toxicity studies in rats and monkeys were also completed. It was found that the standardised preparation contains anti-diarrhoeal active principle(s) in addition to the anti-diabetic activity. Therefore it is decided to develop two drugs, i.e., one anti-diabetic and another anti-diarrhoeal from this lead. The oil from the liver of two fishes has been found to significantly lower the total cholesterol, phospholipid and triglyceride levels in the serum of rats (Glucose Loaded Models). This is a promising candidate drug for which special budgetary provision has been made this year, taking into account the relative ease in mode of drug delivery, i.e., in the form of capsules. Further pure compounds have been identified which possess an array of anti-oxidant, hypolipidaemic and hypoglycaemic activities.