Diabetes mellitus is a debilitating and often life-threatening disease with one cardinal finding hyperglycemia. Maintaining consistent glycemic control is essential for delaying disease progression and preventing micro- and macrovascular complications. Unfortunately, many patients are unable to achieve and maintain their glycemic goal.World Health Organization (WHO) & International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimate that about 8.8% of world population (425m) has diabetes and is projected to be 629m by 2045. Although presently developed countries have higher number of diabetic population, the developing countries will be hardest hit by escalating diabetes epidemic primarily due to urbanization, changing food habits and less physical activities. Considering all the above facts the UN general assembly on 20 Dec 2006 passed resolution 61/225 recognizing diabetes as a chronic debilitating and costly disease associated with major complications that pose severe risks for families, countries and the entire world. The Resolution also designated 14 Nov as the world diabetes day observed by IDF since 1991, and as the UN diabetes day from 2007.
Insulin is the only remedy for type 1 diabetes. For type 2 diabetes there are mainly two groups of medicines (Sulphonylureas and Metformins) used over the years. Acarbose and thiazoidinediones have also been used to a limited extent. These therapies have limited efficacy, limited tolerability and significant mechanism-based adverse effects. Therefore, search for improved antidiabetic drug has been continued throughout the world. Over the last several years the incretin-based therapies (GLP and GIP, DPP-IV inhibitors) have got significant importance although they are very much expensive. Therefore they remain far behind the reach of the common people of the developing countries.Therefore, there is a clear need for the development of alternative strategies for diabetes therapy. A multidisciplinary approach is essential to involve medical professionals, clinical and, chemical & biological scientists, and traditional healers. As more than 80% of the population of the developing countries depend on plant materials for their primary health care, it is imperative to scientifically evaluate the folkloric information on plant materials used for diabetes.
Formation of ANRAP
With the above background and realizing the fact that chemical and biological work have to be brought together through collaborative research between the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM), Dhaka, the Department of Chemistry, University of Dhaka, University of Uppsala (UU) Sweden, and Mahidol University (MU), Bangkok, Thailand, on antidiabetic plant materials was developing during 1990-1991. At that time it was felt appropriate to organize a workshop in the field for exchanging views and expertise. With the financial assistance of the International Program in the Chemical Sciences (IPICS), the main sponsor of the collaborative research program, and the International Foundation for Science (IFS), a workshop was held in January 1992 in Dhaka. The interest and enthusiasm seen at the workshop led to organize the First International Seminar in January 1994 on the same subject. The Seminar recognized the importance of a multidisciplinary concerted move for finding out remedy of an incurable disease like diabetes. Recommendation for the formation of ANRAP was made from the Seminar.
The Dhaka research group prepared a proposal for the formation of ANRAP. The proposal was placed at the ACGC (Asian Coordinating Group in Chemistry) meeting in Melaka, Malaysia in June 1994 by Prof M Mosihuzzaman and Prof Nilufar Nahar. Representatives of ISP, IFS, UNESCO and FACS, Prof Mosihuzzaman and Prof Nilufar Nahar participated at the meeting and the ANRAP proposal was unanimously approved. The ANRAP network was launched in July 1994 with the Organizing Committee of the International Seminar as an ad-hoc committee. The First meeting of the Ad-hoc Committee held in Dhaka in January 1995 adopted the ANRAP constitution and appointed the first ANRAP Board.