Research: PAN and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 228

Abstract

PAN and COLLEAGUES, (1)School of Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100102, China illustrate various approaches of drug discovery from herbal medicines, provide examples of successful drug discovery from botanical sources, describe problems in drug discovery from herbal medicines and propose possible solutions.

Background

With tens of thousands of plant species on earth, we are endowed with an enormous wealth of medicinal remedies from Mother Nature. Natural products and their derivatives represent more than 50% of all the drugs in modern therapeutics. Because of the low success rate and huge capital investment need, the research and development of conventional drugs are very costly and difficult.

Methodology

Over the past few decades, researchers have focused on drug discovery from herbal medicines or botanical sources, an important group of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy. With a long history of herbal usage for the clinical management of a variety of diseases in indigenous cultures, the success rate of developing a new drug from herbal medicinal preparations should, in theory, be higher than that from chemical synthesis.

Results

While the endeavour for drug discovery from herbal medicines is ‘experience driven’, the search for a therapeutically useful synthetic drug, like ‘looking for a needle in a haystack’, is a daunting task. In this paper, we first illustrated various approaches of drug discovery from herbal medicines. Typical examples of successful drug discovery from botanical sources were given. In addition, problems in drug discovery from herbal medicines were described and possible solutions were proposed.

Conclusion

The prospect of drug discovery from herbal medicines in the postgenomic era was made with the provision of future directions in this area of drug development.

References

Pan SY(1), Zhou SF, Gao SH, Yu ZL, Zhang SF, Tang MK, Sun JN, Ma DL, Han YF, Fong WF, Ko KM. New Perspectives on How to Discover Drugs from Herbal Medicines: CAM's Outstanding Contribution to Modern Therapeutics. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2013:627375. 2013. doi: 10.1155/2013/627375. Epub Mar 24 2013.

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