Big Data and supercomputing to help C-DAC standardize ayurveda

Times of India
January 22, 2018

If Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, supercomputing etc. are terms associated with latest technology, vata-pitta-kapha etc. are words associated with the age-old branch of medicine — ayurveda. But, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is trying to bring these worlds closer.

A proposal to apply ayurveda, using supercomputation and simulations, will be submitted to the ministry of AYUSH within six months. If the proposal gets approved, it will pave the way for setting up of universal standards and proofs for ayurveda, said Hemant Darbari, the director general of C-DAC.

Explaining how the two worlds will meet, Darbari said, "The genomic data of an individual will be compared with the vast data available on how similar genomic signatures react to a particular medicine. Based on the finding, personalised medicines will be prescribed."

He also talked about repurposing of drugs, which would help experts find out if a drug prescribed to a patient for one disease can be used for treating another disease. "Repurposing of drug means identifying the genetic make-up of a person and using Big Data tools to understand whether the drug a patient is using for diabetes can, for example, also treat cancer," Darbari said.

The C-DAC officials said the first step in the process will be to identify the active molecules used in ayurveda. "These molecules are derived from nature and administered after taking into account various attributes of the patient. Some of the molecules are very effective. We would isolate these molecules. Then using simulation, will use them to target disease molecules to see how they react," said Rajendra Joshi, associate director of the Bioinformatics Group, CDAC.

Joshi said a database for the molecules will need to be created. "This will standardise the process, as then we will have the proof that the molecules do work. The aim is to move towards personalised medicines," said Joshi.

Shirish Shepal, who had surrendered his MBBS degree in 2011 to practice as an ayurvedic doctor full time, lauded the move. "Since I have practiced both forms of medicine, I can say ayurveda is more effective. And unlike allopathic medicine, ayurvedic medicines do not have side-effects," said Shepal who has 32 years of experience in the field of medicine.