Profile

Research

Publications

Team

Alumni

V.V. Asha, PhD

Scientist E-II

+91-471-2529457

vvasha@rgcb.res.in

ashavv
ashavv

V.V. Asha, PhD

Scientist E-II

+91-471-2529457

vvasha@rgcb.res.in

  • Profile

    • Ph. D (Botany) “Ethno botany, Pharmacognosy and Ethnopharmacology of Hepatoprotective Agents Employed by Folk Practitioners and Tribal Physicians of South India”. – 1996 (Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute. Palode, University of Kerala)
    • M. Sc (Botany)
    • 2011- till date: Scientist EII, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
    • December 2005-2011: Scientist-E1, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
    • April 2000 – November 2005: Scientist-C, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
    • Sept 1997 – Apr 2000: Scientist-B, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
    • 1997: Research Associate, TBGRI, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram
    • 1991-1994: Research Assistant, Regional Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram
    • Member, Kerala Academy of Science
    • Member, Indian Academy of Biomedical Science
    • A process to prepare a Phytomedicine for cancer with an extract of Janakia arayalpatra File number-949/DEL/2000 Inventors: Dr. A. Subramoniam, Dr. P.G.Latha, Dr.V.V.Asha, Dr. Rajasekharan, Dr.P.Pushpangadan
    • A process for the preparation of herbal extracts from the fern Cheilanthes farinosa (Indian patent No.269/DEL/2006) Inventors: V.V. Asha, P.J. Wills, and A. Subramoniam
  • Research

    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a widely prevalent cancer in the world. No effective treatment is currently available against it. Cirrhosis and fibrosis are the two main initial stages which appear before the development of HCC. We focus on scientific validation of traditionally used medicinal plants against most common liver disorders like cirrhosis, fibrosis, HCC and its major causative agent hepatitis B virus. The medicinal properties of plants like Cheilanthes farinosa, Lygodium flexuosum, Phyllanthus maderaspatensis, P. rheedii, Cuscuta reflexa, Glycosmis pentaphylla and Tinospora cordifolia have been scientifically evaluated in our studies.The pharmacological activities and mechanism of action behind activities of each plant have been estimatedusing in vitro cell lines and in vivo rat models. Some of the potentially important active molecules have also been isolated from these plants and their structural elucidation, toxicity studies and combinational activity studies are continuing in our lab. Currently, the plants under investigation are Vitex negundo, Tinospora cordifolia and Selaginella involvens. Approaches to improve the pharmacological activities of chemotherapeutic compounds and reference compounds by combining them with plant extracts as well as active plant molecules isolated in our lab are in progress.

    Extra mural grants

    Sl No.Name of PIName of sponsoring agencyTitle of the projectTotal amountTotal period of support
    1Dr.V.V AshaKerala forest DepartmentIsolation of The Active Fraction Having Anti-Hepato Cellular Carcinoma Activity From Lygodium Flexuosum And Analysis of Its Synergistic Effect With Sorafenib, The Drug Currently Used For Treatment of HCC5.5 lakhsJanuary 2010 to March 2014
  • Publications

    1. Suresh V, Sruthi V, Padmaja B, V.V. Asha (2011). Invitro anti-inflammatory and anti- cancer activities of Cuscuta reflexa Roxb. J Ethnopharmacol.134 ,872-877
    2. V. Gayathri, V.V. Asha, J. Anil John and A. Subramoniam (2011). Protection of Immunocompromised mice from fungal infection with a thymus growth-stimulatory component from Selaginella involvens, a fern. Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology 33. 351-359
    3. Subramoniam A, Asha VV, Nair SA, Sasidharan SP, Sureshkumar PK, Rajendran KN, Karunagaran D, Ramalingam K. Chlorophyll revisited: anti-inflammatory activities of chlorophyll a and inhibition of expression of TNF-a gene by the same. Inflammation 35:3 2012 Jun pg 959-66
    4. PS Sreejith, RR Mascarenhas, RJ Praseeja, VV Asha. The apoptosis inducing effect of Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz.) Correa and its influence on gene expression in hepatocellular carcinoma cell line, Hep3 B. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012: 139: 359-365.
    5. Sreejith PS, Praseeja RJ, Asha VV A review on the pharmacology and phytochemistry of traditional medicinal plant, Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz.) Correa. J pharm res. 2012. 5:2723-2728.
    6. PJ. Wills, VV. Asha, Lygodium flexuosam extract down regulates the expression of proinflammmatory cytokines in CCl4 –induced hepatotoxicity. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2012. 412-420.
    7. Sreejith P.S, Divya S, Praseeja R.J, Asha V.V Effect of salt stress on seed germination and seedling growth of green gram. The Journal of Plant Pathology. 2013. 114. 156-164
  • Team


    Praseeja R J, PhD Student

    Screening of anti-HCC activity of Cuscuta reflexa and its chemo sensitising effects

    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a type of primary liver cancer associated with high mortality rate. Development of an effective therapeutic agent is needed to prolong the life of HCC patients. Cuscuta reflexa Roxb.is used in the folk medicine to treat various disorders including weakness of liver, jaundice etc. We have examined the anti-HCC effect of C. reflexa on the HCC cell line, Hep 3B. The cytotoxic effect of C. reflexa extract on Hep 3B and HEK-293 cell lines were checked using MTT assay. The apoptosis inducing ability was studied using Hoechst staining, DNA fragmentation assay and Annexin V-FITC apoptotic assay. The molecular mechanism behind apoptotic induction was analysed using semi quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting. Cell cycle analysis was done to find the effect of the extract on cell cycle progression. Finally a preliminary phytochemical investigation using TLC and HPTLC were also done. Treatment with this extract significantly increased the percentage of apoptotic cells. It also caused G1 arrest, which may be associated with apoptotic induction. The active fractions present in CRCE were also isolated. Our studies showed that the active extract of C. reflexa could reduce the proliferation and induce apoptotic cell death in Hep 3B cells. Thus, this is a promising plant for further studies towards anti-HCC drug development. For this, further studies on the isolation and characterisation of active principle need to be done.

    praseeja
    praseeja

    Praseeja R J, PhD Student

    Screening of anti-HCC activity of Cuscuta reflexa and its chemo sensitising effects

    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a type of primary liver cancer associated with high mortality rate. Development of an effective therapeutic agent is needed to prolong the life of HCC patients. Cuscuta reflexa Roxb.is used in the folk medicine to treat various disorders including weakness of liver, jaundice etc. We have examined the anti-HCC effect of C. reflexa on the HCC cell line, Hep 3B. The cytotoxic effect of C. reflexa extract on Hep 3B and HEK-293 cell lines were checked using MTT assay. The apoptosis inducing ability was studied using Hoechst staining, DNA fragmentation assay and Annexin V-FITC apoptotic assay. The molecular mechanism behind apoptotic induction was analysed using semi quantitative RT–PCR and Western blotting. Cell cycle analysis was done to find the effect of the extract on cell cycle progression. Finally a preliminary phytochemical investigation using TLC and HPTLC were also done. Treatment with this extract significantly increased the percentage of apoptotic cells. It also caused G1 arrest, which may be associated with apoptotic induction. The active fractions present in CRCE were also isolated. Our studies showed that the active extract of C. reflexa could reduce the proliferation and induce apoptotic cell death in Hep 3B cells. Thus, this is a promising plant for further studies towards anti-HCC drug development. For this, further studies on the isolation and characterisation of active principle need to be done.

    Sreejith P S, PhD Student

    Isolation and characterization of anti-hepatocellular carcinoma compound from Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz) correa

    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has gained major clinical interests because of its worldwide increasing incidence and poor survival rate. A complete cure for fibrosis, cirrhosis and HCC is not available today. However chemotherapy is considered as one of the important treatment options for prolonging the patient's life. Unlike synthetic drugs, herbal medicines are mixture of structurally diverse compounds. The search for new lead compounds from plant sources is a crucial element of modern pharmaceutical research. Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz) correa is commonly known as ashvashakota, vananimbuka (Sanskrit) and paanal (Malayalam). It belongs to Rutaceae family. In Ayurveda G. pentaphylla is considered as one of the most important options for curing fever, cough, rheumatism, anaemia, cancer and liver disorders. But a scientific validation regarding the active compounds, mechanism of action, safety and efficacy has not been done. The preliminary investigation showed a selective anti-HCC activity of G. pentaphylla on HCC cell lines. Morphological observation, Hoechst staining, DNA fragmentation, transcript and translational studies revealed that the cytotoxicity of active extract is by regulating the apoptosis cascade. The active alcohol extract was found to induce apoptosis by regulating gene expression in time and dose dependent manner. Chromatography techniques were used to isolate and purify the most active compound from the active alcohol extract. Compound characterization was done by chromatography, phytochemical tests and spectroscopic techniques. Regulatory role of the active extract as well as the isolated compound on anti-fibrotic, anti-HCC, anti-inflammatory, and anti-metastasis related gene expressions were studied. The structure confirmation of the active compound by single crystal XRD, in vivo toxicity studies, anti HBV activities are in progress.

    sreejith
    sreejith

    Sreejith P S, PhD Student

    Isolation and characterization of anti-hepatocellular carcinoma compound from Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz) correa

    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has gained major clinical interests because of its worldwide increasing incidence and poor survival rate. A complete cure for fibrosis, cirrhosis and HCC is not available today. However chemotherapy is considered as one of the important treatment options for prolonging the patient’s life. Unlike synthetic drugs, herbal medicines are mixture of structurally diverse compounds. The search for new lead compounds from plant sources is a crucial element of modern pharmaceutical research. Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz) correa is commonly known as ashvashakota, vananimbuka (Sanskrit) and paanal (Malayalam). It belongs to Rutaceae family. In Ayurveda G. pentaphylla is considered as one of the most important options for curing fever, cough, rheumatism, anaemia, cancer and liver disorders. But a scientific validation regarding the active compounds, mechanism of action, safety and efficacy has not been done. The preliminary investigation showed a selective anti-HCC activity of G. pentaphylla on HCC cell lines. Morphological observation, Hoechst staining, DNA fragmentation, transcript and translational studies revealed that the cytotoxicity of active extract is by regulating the apoptosis cascade. The active alcohol extract was found to induce apoptosis by regulating gene expression in time and dose dependent manner. Chromatography techniques were used to isolate and purify the most active compound from the active alcohol extract. Compound characterization was done by chromatography, phytochemical tests and spectroscopic techniques. Regulatory role of the active extract as well as the isolated compound on anti-fibrotic, anti-HCC, anti-inflammatory, and anti-metastasis related gene expressions were studied. The structure confirmation of the active compound by single crystal XRD, in vivo toxicity studies, anti HBV activities are in progress.

    Greeshma Tom, PhD Student

    Identification of novel therapeutic targets for suppression of Hepatocellular carcinoma through combinational studies of plant active molecules with reference compounds

    Surgical approaches for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have been of limited clinical applications due to the inability to diagnose most of the hepatocarcinomas at an early stage. Therefore, chemotherapy remains the feasible option for the treatment of inoperable HCC patients. Unfortunately, most of the chemotherapeutic drugs pose the challenge of having dose dependent toxicities as well as creating severe side effects to non-tumorous tissues. Furthermore, chemotherapy appears to be ineffective in Hepatocellular carcinoma, it being characterized by a high degree of drug resistance. For improving the survival of HCC patients, refined therapeutic regimens that potentiate the effects of chemotherapeutic drugs and reference compounds need to be fabricated. Improving the anti cancer effects of these compounds with combinatorial approaches can be an impressive alternative. It is proposed to evaluate and compare the combinational effects of active plant extracts with reference compounds and chemotherapeutic drugs. The prospective plants utilized in the study are Vitex negundo, Tinospora cordifolia and Selaginella involvens. The IC50 values of the reference compounds and chemotherapeutic drugs in liver cell lines were determined which are indicative of their liver ailment specific activities. Also, preliminary monitoring of autophagy has been done. Once the dose dependent synergistic or antagonistic relationship is established, the mechanism of action of the novel combination will be elucidated by performing specific assays. The study also aims to dissect the role of autophagy in causing chemotherapeutic drug resistance in Hepatocellular carcinoma. The effect of combination in suppressing autophagy will also be analysed

    greeshma
    greeshma

    Greeshma Tom, PhD Student

    Identification of novel therapeutic targets for suppression of Hepatocellular carcinoma through combinational studies of plant active molecules with reference compounds

    Surgical approaches for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have been of limited clinical applications due to the inability to diagnose most of the hepatocarcinomas at an early stage. Therefore, chemotherapy remains the feasible option for the treatment of inoperable HCC patients. Unfortunately, most of the chemotherapeutic drugs pose the challenge of having dose dependent toxicities as well as creating severe side effects to non-tumorous tissues. Furthermore, chemotherapy appears to be ineffective in Hepatocellular carcinoma, it being characterized by a high degree of drug resistance. For improving the survival of HCC patients, refined therapeutic regimens that potentiate the effects of chemotherapeutic drugs and reference compounds need to be fabricated. Improving the anti cancer effects of these compounds with combinatorial approaches can be an impressive alternative. It is proposed to evaluate and compare the combinational effects of active plant extracts with reference compounds and chemotherapeutic drugs. The prospective plants utilized in the study are Vitex negundo, Tinospora cordifolia and Selaginella involvens. The IC50 values of the reference compounds and chemotherapeutic drugs in liver cell lines were determined which are indicative of their liver ailment specific activities. Also, preliminary monitoring of autophagy has been done. Once the dose dependent synergistic or antagonistic relationship is established, the mechanism of action of the novel combination will be elucidated by performing specific assays. The study also aims to dissect the role of autophagy in causing chemotherapeutic drug resistance in Hepatocellular carcinoma. The effect of combination in suppressing autophagy will also be analysed

    Sheena Philip, PhD Student

    Studies on the identification of the active anti-inflammatory principle of Tinospora cordifolia (Thunb.) Miers and elucidation of the mechanism of action

    Many cancers arise from sites of infection, chronic irritation and inflammation. The tumour microenvironment, composed of inflammatory cells, is an important participant in the neoplastic process, promoting proliferation, survival and migration. Therefore anti inflammatory agents have a potential role in the treatment of tumorigenesis. Chemically diverse classes of naturally occurring substances derived from plants have got potential importance in the treatment of anti-inflammatory disorders. Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi) is a large, glabrous, perennial, deciduous, climbing shrub of weak and fleshy stem found throughout India and widely used in folk and Ayurvedic systems of medicine. Potential medicinal properties reported include anti-diabetic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, antioxidant, anti-allergic, anti-stress, anti-leprotic, antimalarial, hepato-protective, immuno-modulatory and anti-neoplastic activities. There are many studies suggesting the anti-inflammatory activity of Tinospora cordifolia. The plant exhibited anti-inflammatory effect in cotton pellet granuloma and formalin induced arthritis model, and mode of action resembles that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent. However, the molecular basis of action and the phytochemistry of the active extract have not yet been elucidated. Preliminary in vitro studies carried out in our lab showed significant anti inflammatory activity. The mechanism of action, phytochemical characterization and isolation of the active principle is advancing.

    sheena
    sheena

    Sheena Philip, PhD Student

    Studies on the identification of the active anti-inflammatory principle of Tinospora cordifolia (Thunb.) Miers and elucidation of the mechanism of action

    Many cancers arise from sites of infection, chronic irritation and inflammation. The tumour microenvironment, composed of inflammatory cells, is an important participant in the neoplastic process, promoting proliferation, survival and migration. Therefore anti inflammatory agents have a potential role in the treatment of tumorigenesis. Chemically diverse classes of naturally occurring substances derived from plants have got potential importance in the treatment of anti-inflammatory disorders. Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi) is a large, glabrous, perennial, deciduous, climbing shrub of weak and fleshy stem found throughout India and widely used in folk and Ayurvedic systems of medicine. Potential medicinal properties reported include anti-diabetic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, antioxidant, anti-allergic, anti-stress, anti-leprotic, antimalarial, hepato-protective, immuno-modulatory and anti-neoplastic activities. There are many studies suggesting the anti-inflammatory activity of Tinospora cordifolia. The plant exhibited anti-inflammatory effect in cotton pellet granuloma and formalin induced arthritis model, and mode of action resembles that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent. However, the molecular basis of action and the phytochemistry of the active extract have not yet been elucidated. Preliminary in vitro studies carried out in our lab showed significant anti inflammatory activity. The mechanism of action, phytochemical characterization and isolation of the active principle is advancing.

    Krishna Radhika N, PhD Student

    Prospecting of Cheilanthes farinosa (Forsk.) Kaulf for its antiangiogenic and anti-hepatocellular carcinoma activities.

    The main idea of work was finding the anti-angiogenic and anti-Hepatocellular carcinoma activity of Cheilanthes farinosa, a fern. C.farinosa, a fern, is used by the tribal population of Himachal Pradesh for the treatment of diseases that affect the liver. They were using the plant mixed with rice water for a condition in which yellow urine is discharged. But no systematic scientific validation was given to the hepato-protective effect. My work focuses on the different hepato-protective effects of C.farinosa. An initial screening of three different extracts of the plant –water, ethanol and hexane extract has shown that water extract was most effective. So water extract was prepared and used for all the screening undertaken. Work began with the collection of C.farinosa from Ponmudi, Kerala. The plant was finely powdered and water extract was prepared through standard procedures. The water extract was used for analysing the hepatoprotective effects through toxicological studies performed in rats. The initial screening of hepato-protective effects were done in rat models by inducing toxicity in rats and evaluating the pre and post treatment effects of water extract of C.farinosa. Further the anti-fibrotic effects were also studied. It was observed that water extract could lower the damage caused by the toxin in pre-treatment and post treatment. Chronic fibrosis leads to cirrhosis which may end up in Hepatocellular carcinoma. So an evaluation of the effect of the extract on HCC has to be done. This was done in hepatic cancer cell line Hep3B through different assays.  Hepatocellular carcinoma being a highly vascularized tumor, an important mechanism of treatment that could be adopted is antiangiogenic therapy. The anti angiogenic effect of C.farinosa was confirmed through CAM assay and gene expression studies. Through phytochemical analysis, we found that flavanols and phenolics are the major components that give the plant its hepatoprotective effects. Refining in identification of the chemical finger print of the extract was done through HPTLC and HPLC, which confirmed the presence of Rutin , a known compound which lowers VEGF expression, and Chlorogenic acid and Caffeic acid , that are compounds with antioxidant

    sheena
    sheena

    Krishna Radhika N, PhD Student

    Prospecting of Cheilanthes farinosa (Forsk.) Kaulf for its antiangiogenic and anti-hepatocellular carcinoma activities.

    The main idea of work was finding the anti-angiogenic and anti-Hepatocellular carcinoma activity of Cheilanthes farinosa, a fern. C.farinosa, a fern, is used by the tribal population of Himachal Pradesh for the treatment of diseases that affect the liver. They were using the plant mixed with rice water for a condition in which yellow urine is discharged. But no systematic scientific validation was given to the hepato-protective effect. My work focuses on the different hepato-protective effects of C.farinosa. An initial screening of three different extracts of the plant –water, ethanol and hexane extract has shown that water extract was most effective. So water extract was prepared and used for all the screening undertaken. Work began with the collection of C.farinosa from Ponmudi, Kerala. The plant was finely powdered and water extract was prepared through standard procedures. The water extract was used for analysing the hepatoprotective effects through toxicological studies performed in rats. The initial screening of hepato-protective effects were done in rat models by inducing toxicity in rats and evaluating the pre and post treatment effects of water extract of C.farinosa. Further the anti-fibrotic effects were also studied. It was observed that water extract could lower the damage caused by the toxin in pre-treatment and post treatment. Chronic fibrosis leads to cirrhosis which may end up in Hepatocellular carcinoma. So an evaluation of the effect of the extract on HCC has to be done. This was done in hepatic cancer cell line Hep3B through different assays.  Hepatocellular carcinoma being a highly vascularized tumor, an important mechanism of treatment that could be adopted is antiangiogenic therapy. The anti angiogenic effect of C.farinosa was confirmed through CAM assay and gene expression studies. Through phytochemical analysis, we found that flavanols and phenolics are the major components that give the plant its hepatoprotective effects. Refining in identification of the chemical finger print of the extract was done through HPTLC and HPLC, which confirmed the presence of Rutin , a known compound which lowers VEGF expression, and Chlorogenic acid and Caffeic acid , that are compounds with antioxidant

    Krishnakumar K A, PhD Student

    Bioactivity Guided Fractionation and Characterization of Phyllanthus maderaspatensis L for Anti-hepatic fibrotic effects.

    Phyllanthus maderaspatensis, a traditional medicinal plant used in the treatment of liver problems, has been previously investigated in our lab for its hepato-protective effects. It was found that the n-hexane extract of Phyllanthus maderaspatensis (designated as PmHE) showed best hepato-protective activity against acetaminophen and carbon tetrachloride induced hepatic injury in in-vivo models. My aim is to investigate the pharmacological properties of Phyllanthus maderaspatensis against liver fibrosis. Our in vivo experiments on carbon-tetrachloride induced hepatic fibrosis showed the curative efficiency of PmHE. We have also investigated the mechanism of action of the anti-hepatic fibrotic effects PmHE in in vitro models. The anti-fibrotic effects of PmHE were found to be due the induction of apoptosis of activated hepatic stellate cells and also due to the reversal of activated nature of stellate cells to the quiescent stage.

    sheena
    sheena

    Krishnakumar K A, PhD Student/h4>

    Bioactivity Guided Fractionation and Characterization of Phyllanthus maderaspatensis L for Anti-hepatic fibrotic effects.

    Phyllanthus maderaspatensis, a traditional medicinal plant used in the treatment of liver problems, has been previously investigated in our lab for its hepato-protective effects. It was found that the n-hexane extract of Phyllanthus maderaspatensis (designated as PmHE) showed best hepato-protective activity against acetaminophen and carbon tetrachloride induced hepatic injury in in-vivo models. My aim is to investigate the pharmacological properties of Phyllanthus maderaspatensis against liver fibrosis. Our in vivo experiments on carbon-tetrachloride induced hepatic fibrosis showed the curative efficiency of PmHE. We have also investigated the mechanism of action of the anti-hepatic fibrotic effects PmHE in in vitro models. The anti-fibrotic effects of PmHE were found to be due the induction of apoptosis of activated hepatic stellate cells and also due to the reversal of activated nature of stellate cells to the quiescent stage.

    Gayathri L T ,Technical Associate

    My major duties involve maintenance of laboratory records, lab registers of chemicals, glass wares, instruments, maintenance of biosafety hoods, CO2 incubators, freezers, sterilization of glassware. My duties also includeMedia preparation for animal cell culture, sterilization of materials required for tissue culture, extracts preparation from medicinal plants using soxhlet apparatus with different solvents, lyophilisation and alcohol distillation. I also look after proper maintenance of receipts, distribution of consumables and chemicals in the lab and settlement of bills and vouchers of various laboratory purchases done.

    sheena
    sheena

    Gayathri L T ,Technical Associate

    My major duties involve maintenance of laboratory records, lab registers of chemicals, glass wares, instruments, maintenance of biosafety hoods, CO2 incubators, freezers, sterilization of glassware. My duties also includeMedia preparation for animal cell culture, sterilization of materials required for tissue culture, extracts preparation from medicinal plants using soxhlet apparatus with different solvents, lyophilisation and alcohol distillation. I also look after proper maintenance of receipts, distribution of consumables and chemicals in the lab and settlement of bills and vouchers of various laboratory purchases done.

  • Alumni