Using a variety of cumin, Shoolini University scientists have patented an innovative herbal gel for affordable, effective treatment of mild to moderate psoriasis.

The World Health Organization reports that psoriasis prevalence in countries ranges between 0.09% and 11.43%. An immune-mediated condition, psoriasis causes itchiness and irritation. It is an inflammatory skin disorder that can result in considerable discomfort, besides impairment of physical and mental health. Psoriasis causes scales and thick red skin, resulting in social stigma that adds to a patient’s burden.

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Treatments are available in the market today. However, existing treatment options tend to be expensive or likely to produce harmful side effects. However, relief for patients may be on the way. In a 2018 patent, scientists at Shoolini University have described a new plant-based gel, which contains a natural anti-inflammatory chemical compound. This innovative gel specifically offers patients with psoriasis a safe, effective, and affordable treatment option and hope for a better quality of life.

Skin disorders and their impact on life

Inflammatory skin disorders affect millions of people around the world. One such disorder is psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that causes patients to develop red and scaly rashes that itch terribly. Severe cases can cause considerable disfigurement and the consequent psychosocial effects, such as social rejection, can be devastating. There is still no cure for psoriasis. Existing palliative treatment options, including steroid and UV radiation therapy, are often expensive, have limited efficacy, and cause harmful side effects that can further deteriorate the patient’s quality of life.

The Nigella sativa Patent

This recent invention by scientists at Himachal Pradesh-based Shoolini University offers hope for patients who desire effective and safe psoriasis treatment. In a patent titled “Improved vesicular formulation of thymoquinone for the treatment of dermal inflammatory disorders and method thereof” (WO/2018/134852; filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization), Dr. Poonam Negi, Charul Rathore, and Ishita Sharma describe their method for creating a gel that contains thymoquinone, a pharmacologically active chemical found in the seeds of the plant Nigella sativa—commonly known as black cumin and widely used in herbal medicine.

Thymoquinone has been shown effective in treating symptoms of psoriasis. This novel, natural gel may serve as a useful means of harnessing thymoquinone’s therapeutic effects, thereby providing relief from the itchy rashes and improving a patient’s quality of life.

N. sativa oil is traditionally used for treating skin conditions, including psoriatic rashes. But, Dr. Negi says, “This oil contains low thymoquinone levels, which forces patients to apply large amounts of it. Our newly developed gel, however, maintains therapeutically effective concentrations of thymoquinone at the psoriatic lesions.” The product has been tested preclinically for its efficacy and safety and its clinical outcomes need to be done.

Using this herbal-based gel can therefore help prevent the skin irritation that comes from applying large amounts of N. sativa oil. This plant-based gel also makes it easier for thymoquinone to penetrate rashes, and is thus, more effective than the oil.

Making psoriasis treatment affordable

Another important advantage of this natural remedy is its affordability. The demand for palliative psoriasis treatments, such as steroids and UV treatment, is enormous despite their high costs and major, harmful side effects. In fact, global sales of psoriasis treatments are growing at approximately 7% per year and are expected to reach US$ 13.1 billion by 2025.

When asked about the likely price of her team’s patented gel, Dr. Negi proudly states, “We predict that our therapy will cost only ₹500 per month in cases of mild psoriasis and only ₹1000 per month in cases of moderate-to-severe psoriasis, which is much less than what existing therapies cost.

These low costs could do much to make herb-derived, N. sativa–based psoriasis treatments more accessible to low-income groups around the world. With increasing preference for natural and traditional medicine systems, there is immense potential demand for this plant-based topical remedy.

Impact of the herb in current times

It is worth noting that many conventional treatment options for psoriasis, such as steroids, work by suppressing the immune system. This is a matter of serious concern, given the current spread of COVID-19, which requires a strong, balanced immune system to combat the infection. Shoolini’s thymoquinone-loaded, natural topical gel, developed from a well-known herb that can relieve psoriatic rashes without compromising the immune system. Thus, this novel gel may be an attractive treatment option that does not increase patients’ risk of being infected by COVID-19.

In conclusion, the gel developed by Dr. Negi and her team at Shoolini University provides an effective, safe, and affordable treatment option for patients with mild to moderate psoriasis. This novel, water-based gel represents a valuable addition to herbal treatment options available to patients suffering from skin disorders, providing relief from scaly and itchy rashes and hope in casting aside the severe social stigma that accompanies these disorders.

Moreover, it is especially relevant in the current pandemic situation when cases of psoriasis have increased considerably in number.

Reference

Authors: Dr. Poonam Negi, Charul Rathore, and Ishita Sharma

Title of patent: Improved vesicular formulation of thymoquinone for the treatment of dermal inflammatory disorders and method thereof

Patent number: WO/2018/134852

Issuing organization: World Intellectual Property Organization, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2174/1872211311666171129121128

About the inventors

Dr. Poonam Negi is an Assistant Professor at the Shoolini University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She earned her PhD at Punjab University, and she has authored several papers concerning treatments for inflammatory disorders. Charul Rathore and Ishita Sharma both completed MPharm degrees at the Shoolini University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Source: Shoolini University


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