JNTBGRI wins patent, lists healer as an inventor

The Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode has been awarded a patent for a polyherbal formulation which boasts multiple therapeutic properties, but there is something more which makes this achievement truly unique and compelling.

Scan the list of inventors of the novel formulation and you will come across the name T.M. Shahul Hamid Vaidyar, a traditional healer from Kollam.

A first?

This is possibly the first instance of a traditional healer being designated as an inventor of a patent alongside scientists, the JNTBGRI said. The institute terms it an innovative step in the protection of traditional knowledge and equitable sharing of benefits.

The formulation, based on knowledge shared by Mr. Shahul Hamid, was validated by the JNTBGRIโ€™s Ethnomedicine and Ethnopharmacology Division as having properties which could help battle diabetes, liver disorders, and fatigue. The full list of inventors include S. Rajasekharan, P.G. Latha, Shahul Hamid, S.R. Suja, and N.M. Krishnakumar.

Eligible for benefits

โ€œUsually, scientific circles treat individuals such as Shahul Hamid as โ€˜informantsโ€™. By listing him as an inventor, he will be eligible for the benefits once the formulation gets commercialised,โ€ R. Prakash Kumar, Director, JNTBGRI, told The Hindu. โ€œWe also hope that it will be an inspiration to others to do likewise. It will help bridge the gap between people or groups who possess such knowledge and the scientific community,โ€ he said.

Dr. Rajasekharan echoed this view. โ€œWe went ahead with Shahul Hamid signing the prior informed consent, the non-disclosure agreement, and the contractual agreement. Listing him as an inventor is an important step in a scenario where informants or custodians of knowledge often fail to get acknowledged,โ€ he said.

Under the pact, JNTBGRI scientists validated and modified the formulation after scrutinising each ingredient for establishing its efficacy for treating diabetes and liver disorders.

โ€œIt also exhibited significant antioxidant and anti-fatigue effects. Pre-clinical studies, including short-term and long-term toxicity studies, were completed and the healer himself had conducted open trials on patients and found it successful,โ€ the JNTBGRI said. Once the clinical trials are successfully carried out, the JNTBGRI will be ready to transfer the technology.

Filed in 2011

The institute had filed for the patent in 2011. It was granted on February 1 this year. The patent is valid for a term of 20 years from September 4, 2011, in accordance with the provisions of the Patents Act, 1970.

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