A team of researchers at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) has found that cloves — a popular condiment called ‘laung’ in Urdu — may be able to prevent sporadic outbreaks of dengue fever. The country has remained dependent on western medicine to counter this problem, which is something the researchers at the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering said they wanted to change.
The researchers screened several local herbs and medicinal plants for their potential to disrupt virus reproduction. It was found that cloves — which are a common ingredient in the local cuisine — contain a chemical compound known as eugeniin which is capable of halting the synthesis of viral components and stopping their assembly into a mature virus, thus stopping the virus from reproducing.
This discovery was made by SBASSE’s Hafiza Nosheen Saleem, who worked under the supervision of Dr. Muhammad Saeed. The SBASSE’s Nuclear Management Resonance (NMR) facility at SBASSE — which was inaugurated in January 2018 — played a significant role in this discovery.
When asked about her future goals, Saleem stated that the study had energised her to pursue higher education in medicinal chemistry. Dr. Saeed also expressed optimism about the development of medicine against the dengue virus and other diseases using local ingredients. The study was supported by the Faculty Initiative Fund (FIF) from LUMS and the National Research Program for Universities (NRPU) from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan.
The dengue situation came to head in 2011, when over 21,000 individuals were diagnosed with the disease, out of whom 310 people lost their lives. The situation was worst in the Punjab province and the deceased also included Punjab Provincial Assembly member Mumtaz Jajja. However, things improved significantly the next year with the launch of a massive dengue surveillance and eradication program by the Punjab government which was powered by smartphone technology. The ability to compile information about dengue mosquito breeding sites proved invaluable as government personnel were able to significantly bring down dengue cases by the next year.
The SBASSE team’s research article is titled Inhibition of Dengue Virus Protease by Eugeniin, Isobiflorin, and Biflorin from the Flower Buds of Syzygium aromaticum (Cloves) in ACS Omega, and has been published.