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Joint Effort Crucial for Chinese Medicine

Safety, effectiveness and quality are vital to the success of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the global market. But collaboration is also essential for commercial success and to make a greater contribution to human health, agreed scientists and government officials at a biology and medicine forum in Shanghai on Sunday. It was the first day of the three-day conference, which more than 600 scientists, investors and entrepreneurs are attending.

"The study of Chinese medicine could be a new paradigm for the development of medicine and to facilitate the current mainstream approach in drug discovery," said Professor Cheng Yungchi, of the Yale University School of Medicine.

An internationally renowned leader in the fields of cancer and viral pharmacology, Cheng recently developed an interest in the use of TCM for the treatment of cancer. Currently, five chemical entities that were discovered in his laboratory are under clinical trials for the treatment of cancer, Hepatitis B virus and human immunodeficiency virus.

Cheng said that the world is seeking multiple chemicals targeting multiple sites. Chinese herbal medicine, which falls into this category and has been proven effective for hundreds of years, could be useful in fulfilling unmet needs of medicine in the future.

According to Chen Zhu, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, US$16 billion worth of medicine made of natural materials was sold last year. Sales are increasing at an average annual rate of 10 percent a year. "Global demand is also providing enormous opportunities for TCM," he said.

However, Cheng noted, to globalize Chinese medicine and promote TCM study scientists must work together to demonstrate its clinical efficacy based on evidence. It is important to make consistent preparations with respect to clinical efficacy using objective quality control methodology.

Equally critical is replacing complex and unfriendly formulas with those that are simple and user-friendly.

"Given recent advances in our knowledge about human diseases and physiology, as well as the development of modern technology and information, we can expect to meet all those requirements," he said.
During the three-day forum, 60 scientists will present their latest research on TCM.

(China Daily July 26, 2004)


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