In a commendable initiative, world’s first comprehensive open database on curcumin has been created by Indian scientists from Kolkata with an aim to create substitutional innovation strategy and generate public awareness. The Curcumin Resource Database (CRDB) or portal is a collaborative effort of the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G), Institute of Advanced Study on Science and Technology (IASST) and the Central University of South Bihar (CUSB), Patna. The entire stream of efforts and struggles to impart security to the celebrity therapeutic component (curcumin) of the golden Indian spice turmeric and much beloved amongst researchers across the sphere been granted a worldwide recognition.
The CRDB team includes;
- Dr. N.C. Talukdar, Team Leader, Director, Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology, Guwahati, Assam.
- Prof. Utpal Bora, Team Leader, Bioengineering Research Laboratory, Dept. of Biosciences and Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, Assam.
- Dr. Anil Kumar, Editor Cum Admin Centre for Biological Sciences (Bioinformatics), Central University Of South Bihar, Patna.
- Swagata Sharma, Assistant Editor, Research Scholar, Bioengineering Research Laboratory, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, Assam.
- Hasnahana Chetia, Assistant Editor, Research Scholar, Bioengineering Research Laboratory, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, Assam.
- Debajyoti Kabiraj, Assistant Editor and Research Scholar, Bioengineering Research Laboratory, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, Assam.
The database is the first-ever comprehensive, up-to-date database that exclusively covers curcumin analogs, their molecular targets and patents, Curcuma longa varieties and existing literature on curcumin. It is an open-access database, which is manually curated and cross-referenced with other databases such as PubChem, Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed, PatentScope etc to provide high quality data to users. It also allows submission of data from public that undergoes a peer-review process before entry into the database. Since its launch in August 2015; the portal has already harvested nearly 23,000 hits. As per the statement by IASST director N. C. Talukdar to IANS, CRDB has been cultivated through a comprehensive analysis of published literatures, including information on traditional knowledge on curcumin. One of the major aims of CRDB is to present all relevant information on curcumin, which is widely approbated as an antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous compound.
Currently, with a built-in search engine, the portal embraces 1,186 curcumin analogs, 195 molecular targets, 9,075 peer-reviewed publications, 489 patents and 176 varieties of turmeric obtained by extensive data mining and careful curation from numerous sources, public domain databases and published literature in peer reviewed journals. It is hypothesized that portal might be of great aid in design and development of therapeutic modalities and create an understanding among commonalities about the value of traditional knowledge of turmeric, as also evidenced from the acrimonious patent disputes between India and the West.
Traditional Knowledge Database Library (TKDL) is India’s digital repository on traditional knowledge, exclusively about medicinal plants and formulations used in Indian systems of medicine and serve as a tool for prevention of embezzlements of traditional knowledge of India and serves as a weapon against erroneous patents (biopiracy). In an outstanding incidence involving a case of turmeric, in the year 1995, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had granted a patent on the wound healing properties of turmeric; however the patent was revoked in 1997, after India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) filed a re-examination case with the USPTO based on the argument that turmeric has been in use for thousands of years for healing wounds and rashes and therefore its presented medicinal use was not a novel invention. The claim was further supported by documentary evidence of traditional knowledge, including ancient Sanskrit text and a paper published in 1953; and that’s the imperishable value of TKDL.
R S Praveen Raj, an activist and former patent examiner of the Indian government informed that the impartial asset of the database is a huge advantage over TKDL and as compared to TKDL, CRDB has immense potential since it is an open source and can be easily accessed by everyone. However, TKDL is yet to be shared amongst the scientists. According to N.C Talukdar, the database will “stimulate new innovation” since it will be of great aid to new innovators in terms of circumventing repeating research work. As per Utpal Bora, a professor in IIT-G’s Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, “it will be constantly updated with new information. Scientists anywhere across the world who have dug out new data on turmeric can add them to the database easily” and “it can act as a resource for IPR professionals to help prevent erroneous patents,” thus describing the CRDB as an ‘additional resource’ to the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) with consideration to curcumin. The database will also serve as a knowledge base for the common people to gain knowledge about turmeric components and how they are being harnessed by companies to generate nutraceuticals and a variety of health products.
The key highlights of CRDB include; a) user-friendly web interface allowing hassle-free browsing, retrieval and download with provisions for regular update of the datasets; b) the USP of this user-friendly portal is its open-access feature along with the fact that it serves as a guide for curcumin via four sections — its analogs, its molecular targets, patents and publications; c) one can easily save the data in .pdf format using extensions available with popular web browsers like Google Chrome; d) by registering in CRDB, one can submit their datasets to the CRDB administrator and on approval by admin post verification of the dataset, the data will be added to CRDB; e) CRDB is cross-referenced with other well-known public domain databases such as PubChem, NCBI, Scopus, Web of Science etc with a monthly update; f) one should either acknowledge CRDB with its web address or cite it within the bibliography whenever data is used from CRDB for a publication and to cite CRDB, the “Cite Us” page should be referred.
A big round of applause goes into the account of our scientists for creating a safe and secured jewel box for the precious golden-jewel-spice of India.