Views: 7 Author: Golden Horizon Biologics Publish Time: 2016-07-19 Origin: Golden Horizon Biologics
Researchers of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at the University of Karachi and a team of dermatologists have started clinical trials of five local plant extracts at the Leprosy Centre Larkana that have shown high potency for curing fungal and bacterial skin infections in previous tests at the ICCBS, The News learnt on Tuesday.
Researchers and dermatologists are hoping to come up with new plant-based medicines for the treatment of skin diseases that are on a rise in rural areas of Sindh due to a variety of factors, including climate change. Due to lack of treatment facilities and abject poverty, most of the affected residents in rural areas of the province have to bear the agonizing skin conditions for their entire lives.
“A team of experts, led by renowned dermatologist Dr Farooq Soomro, who heads the Leprosy Centre Larkana, have started clinical trials of five plant extracts for the treatment of skin diseases. The trials are being conducted at Leprosy Centre Larkana but the extracts of plants are prepared at the ICCBS in University of Karachi,” said Director ICCBS Dr Iqbal Chaudhry while talking to The News.
The Government of Sindh had awarded the project of documenting plants and herbs being used as traditional remedies to the ICCBS and it took five years to conduct the detailed research and identification 104 medicinal plants and herbs used for the purpose
“Around 15 districts of Sindh were covered from where a total of 104 plants have been identified, that were used by the village people to cure various health related problems including skin ailments,” said Dr Choudhry. “A few of them have shown very high potency against fungal and bacterial infections.”
The five most effective of these plants, Neem, Amaltas, Ajwain, Airsa or Irsa, and Aknaj/Rusbharry, were selected for conducting clinical trials on animals and the results revealed that these plants had potency of curing some of the most common skin diseases including scabies, ringworm, Psoriasis, Ptyriasis alba, Vitiligo, warts/wounds/boils, Alopecia, Tinea capitis, jock itch and Ichthyosis.
According to Dr Choudhry, one of the most striking findings of the ethno-botanic surveys in Sindh was the very high prevalence of skin diseases and related disorders.
“The high onset of skin diseases in Sindh is largely due to poverty, lack of clean water, poor sanitary conditions, malnutrition, insect and vector bites and inadequate access to specialized dermatological treatments,” he said. “The most common skin diseases we observed during the survey included scabies, impetigo, superficial fungal infections, Leishmania, and a variety of ulcers due to poor quality of food and water, negligence and lack of treatment.”
He said the team of researchers and dermatologists also witnessed some chronic skin diseases, such as Psoriasis, and affected people had not gotten it checked out or treated because there was no doctor in the area.
Climate change a factor
Researchers also witnessed a strong link between changing climatic conditions besides environmental factors causing the high incidence of skin diseases in Sindh, especially areas witnessing extreme drought, floods and also coastal areas that had high humidity and environmental pollution.
“Our skin is the first line of defence against viral, fungal and bacterial infections and it is the most affected organ by the environmental changes. Growth of organisms responsible for skin diseases is on the rise due to favourable environmental conditions while immunity of local inhabitants is getting weaker due to similar factors,” Dr Chaudhry observed.
Clinical trials on humans
A team of dermatologists led by Dr Farooq Soomro, the head of Leprosy Centre Larkana, had begun clinical trials of selected plant extracts on humans. Dr Choudhry said it would take at least two years to observe the effectiveness these extracts in curing skin ailments in humans.
He said the Sindh government had approved a grant of Rs20 million for the project and as soon as the funds were released, work on the trials would be expedited.
Dr Choudhry emphasised that all the necessary protocols and procedures were being observed and complied with while carrying out these trials.
“We are heading in the direction of preparing new plant-based medicines that would be very effective in curing skin diseases and will have limited side effects. At the moment, we have a limited number of medicines for the treatment of skin diseases while new medicines are not readily available or enough to cater to the spread of skin ailments in the country, especially in our rural areas,” added Dr Chaudhry.