52 genes responsible for specifying the individual’s doshas or prakritis

By | November 5, 2015

Ministry of Science & Technology

04-November, 2015

Ayurveda Prakriti – The Three Doshas, have been Correlated with Genomic Structures in a Research Study
A genome-wide study indicated certain correlation between Ayurvedic prakriti classifications with genomic diversity.  A study on the subject has been done by the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad a premier research organization of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research with the collaboration of other national research institutes.

A research team at the CCMB under the leadership of Dr. Thangaraj, has taken up the mega program. Well-trained Ayurvedic physicians screened about 3400 people and the same sets of people were also screened by software called AyuSoft developed by C-DAC, Bangalore.

Ayurvedic physicians believe that there are three doshas or biological energies / humors found in the human body.  Ancient Indians believed that everything that we see is made up of five elements – Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.  Vata is related to elements of space and air; pittha is related to elements of fire and water and kapha is related to elements of water and earth.  Each individual would have different levels of these three doshas, hence the diversity.  However, each person can be classified, belonging to one or the other type, if one of the doshas predominates.

People whose Prakriti was in concurrence between the assessment by the Ayurvedic physician and by AyuSoft were recruited for the study.  Their blood samples were collected by respective participating labs. Isolation of DNA and genomic studies were carried out at CCMB using Affymetrix 6.0 SNP chip. This chip brings out single nucleotide difference in the genome among the tested samples.  When the data is plotted, interestingly they fell into three groups, establishing the molecular basis for ancient classification.

Whether such phenotypic classification has any molecular basis has been a matter of debate for some time.  A few groups attempted to answer this question and found some correlation when they looked at one or two specific genes.  However, the association of genomic variations with prakriti classification was lacking.

This is the first genome-wide study to establish such correlation between Ayurvedic prakriti classifications with genomic diversity.  Analysis of these single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) revealed that about 52 genes might be responsible for specifying the individual’s doshas or prakritis.  Dr. Thangaraj and his group has taken this study further and attempted to see if the samples collected randomly, without any information on their prakriti, would also fall into three groups after the analysis based on the 52 SNPs, which appear to be important.

Director-CCMB Dr. Ch. Mohan Rao said that this study would help to identify the prakriti of a person based on her/his genome. “This is a major breakthrough linking our ancient wisdom with modern science”. He also said that this work will inspire many more such studies. These studies should eventually lead to establishing Ayurveda on sound footing along with modern medicine.

These studies were recently published in an Open Access Journal, Science Reports, of Nature group of publications. It can be accessed at: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep15786

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