The first large-scale computer screening of herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine has revealed a wide variety of chemicals that may have potential for the development of new drugs.
David Barlow, a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at Kings College, London, and colleagues identified over 8000 chemicals from the 240 most commonly used Chinese herbs. "Over 62 percent of the herbs were found to contain molecules which, potentially at least, might be of use in treating a single particular disease; over half had potential to treat two or more ailments," he says.
The researchers next plan to test candidate molecules in the laboratory to confirm the computer findings and determine which compounds might be safely turned into drugs. Barlow says the analysis may prove useful in developing treatments for hypertension, diabetes, obesity and HIV infection.
The study is scheduled for release in the March 26th issue of the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling.