The Department of Science and Technology (DoST), through its Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Wednesday said that it is doing studies on tawa-tawa’s (scientific name Euphorbia hirta) anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties and its supposed ability to increase blood platelets.
DoST Secretary Mario G. Montejo said the discovery of tawa-tawa’s active ingredient will lead to the development of treatments for dengue and tuberculosis.
Montejo said tawa-tawa and other Philippine herbs are research priorities in DoST’s drug development program which looks into natural substances from plants and animals.
“Natural products research in the country is being refocused and modernized by DoST as competition in the increasingly global industry becomes more intense,” Montejo said.
An analysis of drug origins from 1981-2002 showed that 28 percent of new chemical entities (NCE) are from natural products.
An NCE is a molecule developed at the early stage of the drug discovery process. It goes through clinical trials before it is developed into a drug that could cure certain diseases.
“This is a significant percentage,” Dr. Jaime Montoya, DoST-PCHR executive director, stated.
“That most NCEs come from natural products suggests that natural products are important sources of new drugs or lead compounds suitable for further modifications during drug development,” Montoya said.