Applying Modern Methods to Traditional Meds

Four universities--Hawaii, MIT, Purdue, and Rutgers--are collaborating on an effort, with support from the National Science Foundation, to apply modern analytical methods to traditional medicines in order to learn more about their properties. The researchers will use informatics and bioinformatics to establish a more cohesive database on traditional medicines.

It is almost certain that some of the medicines that have been used for thousands of years could provide leads for new drugs, says Hawaii's John Pezzuto. Also on Pezzuto's team is Ken Morris, formerly of Purdue.

The researchers are presenting their objectives and strategies at a conference this week sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research.

On a related note, a six-year study into the efficacy of Ginkgo for the treatment of Alzheimer's has, unfortunately, come up negative. No evidence was found that Ginkgo leads to improved memory loss in Alzheimer's patients, said study author Steven DeKosky of the University of Virginia.

All the attention is evidence that traditional medicines are being taken more seriously, and researched more seriously. FDA has also gotten on board--interested parties may wish to read the excellent analysis of cGMPs for dietary supplements (which of course rely heavily upon traditional, plant-based ingredients) by Cynthia Kradjel of Integrated Technical Solutions.

-- PWT