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Complex Interactions between Phytochemicals. The Multi-Target Therapeutic Concept of Phytotherapy

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Drugs derived from natural resources represent a significant segment of the pharmaceutical market as compared to randomly synthesized compounds. It is a goal of drug development programs to design selective ligands that act on single disease targets to obtain highly effective and safe drugs with low side effects. Although this strategy was successful for many new therapies, there is a marked decline in the number of new drugs introduced into clinical practice over the past decades. One reason for this failure may be due to the fact that the pathogenesis of many diseases is rather multi-factorial in nature and not due to a single cause. Phytotherapy, whose therapeutic efficacy is based on the combined action of a mixture of constituents, offers new treatment opportunities. Because of their biological defence function, plant secondary metabolites act by targeting and disrupting the cell membrane, by binding and inhibiting specific proteins or they adhere to or intercalate into RNA or DNA. Phytotherapeutics may exhibit pharmacological effects by the synergistic or antagonistic interaction of many phytochemicals. Mechanistic reasons for interactions are bioavailability, interference with cellular transport processes, activation of pro-drugs or deactivation of active compounds to inactive metabolites, action of synergistic partners at different points of the same signalling cascade (multi-target effects) or inhibition of binding to target proteins. “-Omics” technologies and systems biology may facilitate unravelling synergistic effects of herbal mixtures.

Keywords: (MMP)1; Arnica; Arnica montana; Artemisia annua; Berberine; Berberis; CREB; Cannabis sativa; Devil's Claw; Dioscorea sp; Flavonoids; GABA; Ginger; Ginkgo; Ginkgo biloba; Glycyrrhiza glabra; HMP; Harpagophytum procumbens; Hyperforin; Hypericum perforatum; Isoflavones; Kava-Kava; Licorice; Lycopene; Marihuana; Nrf2; Omics; Phytotherapy; Piper methysticum; Polyphenols; Sabal serrulata; Salix alba; Scutellaria baicalensis; Serenoa repens; St. John's wort; Stinging Nettle; UDP-glucuronyl transferases; Urtica dioica; Willow; Zingiber officinalis; antagonism; artemisinin; galanthamine; herbal medicinal products; hormesis; metalloproteinase; molecules; natural products; phytochemicals; phytomedicine; sulfotransferases; synergy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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