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J Int Med Res. 1994 Nov-Dec;22(6):299-312.

Immunomodulatory and anti-tumour polysaccharides from medicinal plants.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories.


Many Chinese medicinal plants have immunomodulatory and anti-tumour activities. Most of the anti-tumour activities of these Chinese herbs are probably due to their immunostimulating polysaccharide components. A general scheme for the isolation and purification of the bioactive polysaccharides from naturally occurring medicinal plants is described. Hot-water extraction followed by various chromatographic methods are usually used to purify the bioactive polysaccharides. The different fractions separated from Chinese medicinal plants show a range of immunomodulatory and anti-tumour activities. The analytical methods used for monosaccharide sequence determination and structural elucidation of the bioactive polysaccharides are described, as are the tests used to evaluate their immunopharmacological activities, both in vitro and in vivo. The purification, characterization and structural elucidation of immunomodulatory polysaccharides from medicinal plants may have important implications in the immunotherapy of cancer and in the treatment of various other diseases.

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