Karachi - Diabetes is one of the major health challenges in the new millennium and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. There is no cure for diabetes while some 625 million people are reported to have diabetes worldwide. Plants medicines played significant role in global health.

Knowledge has become the most important driving force of world’s economies. About 100 million of our population is below the age of 19. Nations are not built just by investing in brick and mortar, in roads and bridges, in dams and power houses.

National and international scientists expressed these views while delivering their plenary lectures on the second day of the 9th ANRAP (Asian Network of Research on Anti-Diabetic Plants) International Seminar on “From Plant to Patient: Identification of New Drugs for Metabolic Disorders” held at the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) University of Karachi (UoK) on Saturday.

Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), UoK organised the global science moot in which around 350 national and foreign experts are participating.

Delivering his key lecture, Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, former chairman HEC, and federal minister for science and technology, said that in today’s world nations were not built just by investing in brick and mortar, in roads and bridges, in dams and power houses but by their ability to unleash the creative potential of their youth and use their talents for socio-economic development.

Under new leadership Pakistan thus hopes to make a new beginning, changing its future directions from the production and export of natural resources or low value added manufactured goods to the manufacture and export of high tech products, he said.

In order to transition from a low value added agriculture economy to a knowledge economy, the three major players that need to come together are universities, industry and government, he said.

About 100 million of our population is below the age of 19, which is 56 per cent, he said, adding that the country needed to train manpower and establish high value added industries ranging from electronics to engineering goods, from pharmaceuticals to automobiles, and from ship building to new and intelligent materials.

ICCBS Director Prof Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary said that Diabetes was one of the major health challenges in the new millennium and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

Current treatments of diabetes are largely ineffective in achieving normal sugar levels, and in delaying the onset of late diabetic complications, he said. Therefore, there is an urgent need for new strategies for the prevention of diabetes and its complications, he maintained.

We conduct surveys throughout the country to find the effect of compounds as one of our compounds already passed from phase one clinical trial, he disclosed.

We have a bio bank where numbers of plants’ extracts have been placed to check their effect on different diseases, he said.

The international center has obtained 44 U.S. patents in the last five years, Prof. Choudhary said.

Bangladeshi scientist Dr. Begum Rokeya said that dependence on natural products and herbal medicines for managing diabetes mellitus wass an age-long practice in various parts of the globe. She observed that medicinal plants played significant role in global health.

The U.S. based scholar Prof. Dr. Rafat A. Siddiqui said that people used plants for medicine long before pure chemicals were manufactured in laboratories. Evidence from the Middle Eastern grave site indicated that Neanderthal man consuming plant specimens as long as 50,000 years ago are still in use today as medicinal plants, he said.

An analysis into the sources of new drugs from 1981 to 2007 reveals that almost half of the drugs approved since 1994 were based on natural products, he stated.

Turkish scientist Prof Dr Bilge Sener delivered her talk on ‘Legal Requirements for the Evidence-Based Development of Herbal Medicines’.