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IIT-G develops low-cost technology to produce psychoactive drugs

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iit guwahatiGuwahati, Oct 27 (IANS): Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT-G) on Tuesday said its researchers have developed a low-cost membrane technology to produce psychoactive drugs and anti-ageing compounds from a wide range of agricultural resources.

A psychoactive drug is a chemical substance that changes nervous system function and results in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behaviour.

The health-related benefits of psychoactive drugs (caffeine) and anti-ageing compounds (i,avonoids) attributed to stimulating detoxification of enzyme activity and inhibition of cell invasion and angiogenesis.

Because of medicinal applications, i,avonoid components have gained popularity as ingredients in the pharmaceutical industry.

These are also found in smaller amount in bamboo leaves, grapes, apples, and other natural sources.

The researchers used agricultural resources like Camellia Sinensis, citrus fruits and peels especially orange peels, berries, ginkgo Biloba, parsley, pulses, tea, sea buckthorn and onions.

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“The developed technology is exclusively pore/particle size-based pressure-driven membrane separation process,” Mihir Kumar Purkait, Head, Centre for the Environment, and Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Guwahati, said in a statement.

The water extracts of above-mentioned plants/fruits/leaves at optimum operating conditions are passed through a specially made cascade membrane units of fabricated with appropriate molecular weight cut off (MWCO) membranes capable of separating targeted flavonoids selectively.

According to the Institute, permeate and retentive part from appropriate membrane unit is then fridge dried to get the powdered product.

“We have synthesized stimuli-responsive smart membrane for the selective separation and purification of the targeted compound from the mixture of plants or leaves or fruits extract in simple water,” Purkait said.

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The commercially available techniques are using various costly organic solvents like: Chloroform, Acetone, Acetonitrile etc.

As a result, the price of these important pharmaceutical raw materials is quite high that ultimately increases the price of the antioxidant.

The technology developed by Professor Purkait doesn’t require any costly organic solvents and uses only water.

Hence, the cost of the process and price of pharmaceuticals thereon is much cheaper than that of the existing solvent-based separation technique.

The patented membrane-based green technology has enormous scope to replace existing costly organic solvent-based techniques and can be used for continuation mode of operation on an industrial scale.

Implementation of the said technology will also create job opportunities in the agriculture sector of the country, the Institute said.

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