IPB University Researcher Explains the Role of Bioinformatics in the Discovery of Efficacious Herbal Compounds

Computational tracing and screening of bioactive compounds of herbal plants is now growing. Utilization of this database of bioactive compounds from Indonesian natural ingredients can be the beginning for the progress of phytopharmaceuticals in Indonesia.

Dr. Wisnu Ananta Kusuma, IPB University Lecturer from the Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (FMIPA) said that there is still a gap between phytopharmaceutical products and standardized herbal medicines. The number of products is still far below expectations. Whereas the potential of herbal plants in Indonesia is very promising.

"If the collaboration is intensified, it will most likely produce more products (phytopharmaceuticals) than what was achieved last year. Namely with a new approach, namely bioinformatics," he said in the Natural Products in Drug Discovery Advances and Opportunities Webinar held by Gunadharma University, last week.

Judging from the perspective and era of the data paradigm, he continued, the need for data is very important. The fusion of technology and biology makes DNA sequencing technology more advanced and causes a data explosion. "We need a scientific breakthrough that needs to be supported by high-level computing that will help researchers explore data and make it more useful," he added.

According to him, the bioinformatics approach makes it possible to analyze the relationship between protein and disease, genes and disease, and other specific relationships. In the era of network pharmacology, researchers use mathematical or graph theory and combine it with an understanding of biological systems to determine the relationship between data.

“This approach has been applied in China to develop traditional Chinese medicine. This should be a lesson in order to advance the development of Indonesian herbal medicine. This development can make herbal medicine more scientifically understandable,” he said.

This researcher from the Tropical Biopharmaca Research Center (Trop BRC) of the Institute for Research and Community Service (LPPM) IPB University said that this could be started by exploring the Indonesian natural material database.

“One of them can be accessed with software made by IPB University researchers, namely IJAH Analytics. This software can be accessed for free through the page http://ijah.apps.cs.ipb.ac.id/. This page provides information on plant networks of protein compounds and their relationship to various diseases, plant efficacy, protein targets for herbal compounds and herbal drug candidates for certain diseases," he added.

He added that another approach was the reverse pharmacology method. Commodities of herbal plants are popular in the community, from generation to generation they have been traced and analyzed the mechanism of their active compounds and their interactions with disease. Then it was tested further to see the mechanism and interaction of the protein and disease of the active compound. Then further laboratory tests were carried out to test its efficacy further.

"The first step in developing Indonesian herbal medicine is to use algorithms and artificial intelligence to select target proteins. From there, we can do it from the selected protein by carrying out enrichment analysis of the target protein by looking at the ontology genes and pathways," he explained.

This further research, he added, could enable Indonesia to develop precision herbal medicine. The bioinformatics approach has the potential to accelerate the process of discovering Indonesian natural compounds that have health benefits.

“Artificial intelligence technology only plays a role in the compound screening process. A series of pre-clinical and clinical trials to produce phytopharmaca still requires massive research collaboration. (MW/Zul) (IAAS/IRN)

Published Date : 22-Dec-2021

Resource Person : Dr Wisnu Ananta Kusuma

Keyword : Lecturer of IPB University, Tropical Biopharmaca Research Center (Trop BRC) LPPM IPB University, bioinformatics, herbs