An international team of scientists has developed a framework that can predict the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in relieving various symptoms associated with multiple diseases. The framework, validated with hospital patient data, is among the first to provide a scientific foundation to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of TCM herbs. Understanding natural and traditional medicine can lead to world-changing drug discoveries, according to the study.
The researchers from Beijing Jiaotong University and Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology in China, and Northeastern University in the United States used symptom-gene association data containing 11,362 diseases, 13,271 genes, and 110,407 associations to derive relationships between proteins targeted by TCM herbs and proteins associated with symptoms such as fever, insomnia and poor appetite.
They mapped those symptom-associated genes onto 18,505 human proteins and 327,924 interactions between proteins and found that symptoms that frequently coincide, such as fever and diarrhea, neighbored each other in the human protein interaction network.
TCM herbs that target proteins in those protein “neighborhoods” could treat those general symptoms, according to the study.
The findings have been validated by clinical records of 1,936 in-patients who were prescribed herbal remedies in a TCM hospital.
The framework establishes a paradigm for understanding the molecular basis of natural medicine and predicting disease treatments, the researchers said.