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Strategies and Techniques for Multi-Component Drug Design from Medicinal Herbs and Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Many common diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are caused or exacerbated by disparate physiological, pathological, environmental, and lifestyle factors. However, the chief aim of current drug discovery approaches is to search for single-entity drugs that interact with well-defined molecular targets (a single receptor or enzyme). The concept of multi-target drugs or multi-component therapy is gaining increased attention with the discovery that many diseases (like hypertension) are best treated by multi-drug or multi-target therapies. Traditional medicines, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Indian Ayurveda, have been re-evaluated and are becoming important resources for the discovery of bioactive molecules with therapeutic effects and for designing multi-targets drugs. This article provides an overview of new strategies and techniques to design therapeutic regimes that comprise more than one active ingredient to produce synergistic effects by simultaneously interacting with multiple molecular targets. Advances in phytochemistry, high throughput screening, DNA sequencing, systems biology, and bioinformatics can reveal the chemical composition and molecular mechanisms of TCM and together provide a new template for the early stages of drug discovery. Meanwhile, clinical knowledge of TCM provides a promising framework for multi-component drug design. A renaissance of multi-component drug discovery inspired by traditional medicine is possible.
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Keywords: Component-based chinese medicine; multi-target drugs; network pharmacology; quantitative composition-activity relationship; system biology; traditional chinese medicine

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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