A traditional drug developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for treating vitiligo or leucoderma is now available for commercial sale in India.
The herbal drug, called Lukoskin, was developed by scientists of the Defence Bio-Energy Research (DIBER) centre at Haldwani in Uttarakhand.
DIBER transferred the technology for the drug, which is being showcased at the ongoing Arogya Expo 2014, to AIMIL Pharmaceuticals India for commercial production and sale.
The drug, developed in 2011, is also on sale at the expo that is being held alongside the World Ayurveda Congress.
Dr Mohammad Junail of AIMIL said his company had signed an agreement with DRDO for the commercial launch of three herbal products.
"Lukosin has been launched. The two other products will soon be commercially launched in Indian markets," he said.
Leucoderma is generally considered an incurable skin condition, but Lukosin has been extremely effective against it, DRDO scientists said.
"The quest to cure leucoderma has finally ended with the development of the new herbal product with extensive studies by scientists of DIBER," said Dr W. Selvamurthy of DRDO.
Worldwide incidence of leucoderma is reported to be 1 to 2 per cent. In India, it's around 4 to 5 per cent, while in some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat it is as high as 5 to 8 per cent.
"This skin disorder is considered a social stigma in our country and people confuse it with leprosy. Affected individuals always remain in constant depression with the feeling of being socially outcast. There are many remedies for this disorder, such as allopathic, surgical and adjunctive. None of the therapies satisfactorily cure this condition.
"Secondly, these are either costly or single component based, with very low level of efficacy. People develop blisters, edema or irritation of the skin, and as a result, most patients discontinue the treatment," said a senior official of DRDO.
DIBER scientists focussed on the causes of leucoderma and came up with a comprehensive formulation for the management of the condition by using Himalayan herbs. Clinically, Lukoskin is quite effective and helps in restoring the normal complexion in the affected area.
Indian medicinal plants are said to be rich in disease-curing properties. An ethno-botanical survey on medicinal plants used for leucoderma by Sugali tribes of Yerramalais forest in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh was carried out in 2011-2012.
Twenty-one plant species were found to be used specifically to treat leucoderma. Similarly, the Allahabad University established the efficacy of traditional treatment of leucoderma by Kol tribes of Vindhya region of Uttar Pradesh during a study.
The traditional treatment used the latex of a plant called Telosma pallid (Roxb) Craib and the study found that the application of the paste of the bark treated the condition to 90 per cent in six months.