Background

Diabetes mellitus is a complex heterogenous metabolic disorder prevalence of which is increasing day by day.  International Diabetes Federation (IDF) predicts that the number of people with diabetes will rise from 366m in 2011 to 552m in 2030. The developing countries will be affected most by escalating diabetes epidemic primarily due to urbanization, changing food habits and less physical activities.  Of the total diabetic population about 90% are type 2 diabetics, rest are type 1 diabetics.

It is well established that in diabetes multiple abnormalities can be detected in diverse tissues. Therefore, it is very difficult to get a single group of effective compound(s) to treat this complicated disease. There are several types of glucose-lowering drugs including insulin sensitizers, insulin secretagogues, GLP-1 analogs and α-glucosidase and DPP-IV inhibitors etc. Most of them, however, have considerable side effects and are expensive. Hence, it is crucial to search for new drugs that would potentially have no or less side effects and will be moreaffordable. Medicinal plant drug discovery provides important leads against various pharmacological targets. As more than 80% of 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 collaborative research between the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM), Dhaka and the Department of Chemistry, University of Dhaka, the University of Uppsala (UU) Sweden, and the Mahidol University (MU) 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 meeting recognized the importance of such a multidisciplinary concerted move for finding out remedy, for a particular incurable disease like diabetes, from plant sources, and adopted an unanimous resolution supporting the formation of ANRAP A draft ANRAP constitution was prepared by the Dhaka Group and was adopted with appropriate modifications at the First Executive Meeting of the Ad hoc Committee of ANRAP held in Dhaka an 7-8 January 1995.