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Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2008 Sep;233(9):1059-65. doi: 10.3181/0802-MR-47. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

Herbogenomics: from traditional Chinese medicine to novel therapeutics.

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Department of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, 511 S. Floyd St., MDR 530, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a long history of development and application and has demonstrated on evidence basis its efficacy in the treatment of many diseases affecting multiple organ systems. In particular, TCM is effective in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and metabolic syndromes. However, the value of TCM has not been fully recognized worldwide due to the lack of definitive information of active ingredients in almost any TCM preparation. Novel functional genomics and proteomics approaches provide alternate perspectives on the mechanism of action of TCM. The target molecules on which TCM either activates or inactivates can be identified by functional genomics and proteomics, thus the affected critical signaling pathway cascades leading to effective recovery of chronic diseases can be studied. Several TCM preparations have been available for the treatment of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, even advanced liver cirrhosis that has been shown to be irreversible and has no US-FDA approved therapy. In the TCM-treated livers with fibrosis and cirrhosis, some critical molecules that are significantly involved in the recovery can be identified through functional genomics and proteomics studies. These molecules become novel targets for drug discovery and development and candidates for the development of gene therapy. Gene therapy developed based on this strategy for the treatment of advanced liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in animal models has obtained promising results. This process thus establishes a herbogenomics approach to understand mechanisms of action of TCM and to identify effective molecular targets for the discovery and development of novel therapeutics.

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