Decoding Chinese medicine: the first step beyond the genetic dream
For many people, the traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years has always been very mysterious — the medicine is taken and the disease is cured.
But why is it good and what works?
do not know.
Professionals call this process a “black box.”
In order to open it, people have tried various methods for decades: date chemical analysis, promoting “fingerprint” . but most of them are not significant.
Now comes the “gene” that is considered a turning point.
More than two months ago, Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Group and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences jointly announced at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing that the “Salvia Genome Framework Map” was successfully completed.
This is the first genome map of a medicinal plant released globally, which means that Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Group is the first in the world to enter the era of Chinese medicine genes.
A term called “Chinese medicine gene” first entered people’s attention.
Subsequently, “Chinese medicine gene” has also become a frequent high-frequency word in major newspapers and the Internet.
However, behind these hustle and bustle, researchers have remained calm: this is a step forward to realize a thousand-year-old dream of Chinese medicine.
They hope to establish a gene library of traditional Chinese medicine to interpret the “wordless heavenly book” of genetic information of traditional Chinese medicine from any angle different from previous research, and to crack the mystery of traditional Chinese medicine and its mechanism of action.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Genes: The project to advance the Baiyun Mountain Salvia miltiorrhiza genome like decoding human genes has started since 5 years ago, and was carried out by Guangzhou Baiyun Mountain Hutchison Huangpu Chinese Medicine Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Group, in cooperation with the Institute of Medicinal Plants, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
The project uses the second-generation high-throughput numerical technology to carry out the whole genome of Salvia miltiorrhiza, and completes the assembly of the framework diagram of Salvia miltiorrhiza.
At present, the total depth has reached 20 times the size of the Salvia miltiorrhiza genome, and the result has covered 92% of the entire Salvia miltiorrhiza genome and 96% of the gene coding region.
When it comes to genes, it’s easy to think of humans.
Double humans, each organism contains its own genes, and Salvia miltiorrhiza as one of them, of course, has its own genes.
The implantation of the Salvia miltiorrhiza genome frame is equivalent to the Human Genome Project of that year, but it is aimed at humans, and the target of this transformation is the traditional Chinese medicinal plant-Chinese medicine.
Democracy, internationally has completed the genome-wide arrangement of various economic crops such as Arabidopsis, soybean, rice, corn, cucumber.
The completion of the human genome framework maps that humans have since entered the post-gene era.
Today, Chinese medicine has also entered the post-gene era.
But, with the pre-gene era index, what kind of change can this post-gene era bring?
To explain this, we have to go back to human genes.
: “Black Box”: Predictive Decoding of the Mechanism of Traditional Chinese Medicine “There are thousands of enzymes in the human body that transform what is implanted in the human body.
“Qi Jinfeng, a tutor of master students in the discipline of traditional Chinese medicine, has been focusing on pharmacokinetic research.
He said that one of them, a drug metabolizing enzyme code-named CYP3A4, is involved in about 50% of clinical drug metabolism.
It is easily inhibited by many substances and induced by a small number of substances.
Therefore, the US FDA requires that each new drug development process must use this enzyme as a table to study drug metabolism and drug interactions.
Qi Jinfeng has done such an experiment.
The rats were given statin antihypertensive drugs, and after taking the drugs, they drank a large dose of grapefruit juice immediately. The results showed that after drinking grapefruit juice, the CYP3A4 enzyme activity was suppressed.
Due to the slower rate of enzyme metabolism, the concentration of the drug will increase and the effect will be stronger.
But for patients with hypertension, strong medicine is not a good thing, because too strong medicine can cause blood pressure to be very low, resulting in extremely unstable blood pressure.
However, this is just research at the biochemical level. How to determine the correctness of this goal?
”This requires further research at the gene level, that is, experiments on top of genes to further confirm.
Qi Jinfeng said, “If it is suppressed, the RNA extracted from the animal will rise slowly, and if induced, it will rise quickly, and it will come out relatively.
“Today in the 21st century, all research related to human diseases must be convincing at the genetic level.
Failure to do this is not convincing.
This is the difference and progress between the post-gene era and the pre-gene era.Qi Jinfeng said that from the life science lectures, the purpose of human genome research is to understand the relationship between each gene and a disease, so as to develop new drugs that can “repair” mutated genes.
“Of course, it will take a long time to achieve this.
“Similarly, modern science includes Western medicine. The question on Chinese medicine is that Chinese medicine is a multi-component medicine, so the mechanism of action of various active ingredients in treating diseases is unclear.
Therefore, apart from clinical statistics, there is basically no way to determine which Chinese medicine is working.
That is to say, the mechanism of action of Chinese medicine is not clear.
This needs to be verified at the genetic level, such as how a gene of a traditional Chinese medicine is related to a certain disease, how the gene of a traditional Chinese medicine “repairs” the gene caused by it, and so on.
Of course, this will take longer.
It is imminent: Once the first medicinal plant genome frame diagram of “breaking grain” was solved with a gene, some doubts were raised: the mechanism of traditional Chinese medicine has not yet been clearly studied, and the pursuit of studying genes at the level of molecular biology has been pursuedIsn’t it too early?
Some even say that the gene of Chinese medicine is more like a commercial hype.
Does it make sense?
Indeed, to understand how Chinese medicine genes “repair” the genes of human diseases, it takes decades or even hundreds of years to do so.
However, it is imminent for drug makers to solve the problem of “breaking grain” of Chinese medicinal materials through Chinese medicine genes.
”In our opinion, the study of TCM genes is necessary for the Chinese patent medicine industry to become stronger and larger.
“Wang Deqin, R & D Director of Hutchison Whampoa Traditional Chinese Medicine Co., Ltd. in Baiyun Mountain, Guangzhou, has shifted the framework of the Salvia miltiorrhiza genome in Baiyunshan.
“Because of the richness of traditional Chinese medicine resources, the varieties and habits of using medicines vary from place to place. Therefore, it is very necessary and necessary to determine the genetic map of various traditional Chinese medicine resources and establish a unified genome library of traditional Chinese medicine varieties.
“Since 1997, 18 ministries and commissions of the State Council have jointly prepared the” Action Plan for the Modernization of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Industry “(Outline), which has greatly improved the current Chinese medicine industry.
In addition, since SARS in 2003, people’s trust in Chinese medicine has greatly increased the consumption of Chinese medicinal materials.
Take Banlangen as an example. Banlangen is a medicinal material with a large amount and a rapid increase in sales.
Many curative effects of Banlangen have been established in the 1970s, with annual sales exceeding 3,000 tons. According to incomplete statistics, from 2006 to 2008, the cumulative sales of Banlangen nationwide has reached about 60,000 tons.
A proprietary Chinese medicine variety has grown from weak to strong, and it will inevitably encounter problems with raw materials when it is further strengthened.
These problems can be quantitative, while more are qualitative.
”The scarcity of Chinese medicinal materials has already become a major obstacle to the development of Chinese medicine, and it may face the problem of ‘dry food’ at any time in the future.
Wang Deqin said that at present, astragalus, licorice, panax notoginseng and other Chinese medicinal materials are facing serious shortages.
For example, the main origin of Astragalus is internal Mongolia. Due to the previous over-picking, the replanting speed is slow and the supply is insufficient.
Another big issue is the quality of Chinese medicinal materials.
Wang Deqin said that due to the serious pollution of the land, many high-quality Chinese medicines are now on the verge of extinction.
In other words, there is a big difference between the herbs that are used today and the herbs that Shennong tasted Baicao five thousand years ago.
Coupled with the authenticity of traditional Chinese medicine, the quality of different production areas varies greatly.
These are all related to the development of the proprietary Chinese medicine industry.
Wang Deqin believes that only by resolving constraints can we increase output and ensure quality.
TCM gene research is to try to grasp the “gene code” of medicinal plants through information decoding, to find functional genes that control active ingredients in TCM, so as to cultivate new varieties and significantly improve the yield and quality of TCM.
However, whether you want to understand the mechanism of traditional Chinese medicine through genetic research, or solve the growth of traditional Chinese medicine cultivation through genes, it will take a long time, but it can be said that the framework diagram of the Salvia miltiorrhiza genome may be to cross the above beautiful wishesThe first step out.
”Father of Gene Maps” Sir John Salston, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, is known as “Father of Gene Maps”.
He is a recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine and is one of the UK’s leading scientists.
He worked with Waterston at the University of Washington to define the world’s first genetic map.
Genetic classification began in 1990, and the world’s first animal genetic map was completed in 1998.
In essence, from 1992 to 2000, he participated in the Human Gene Mapping Project as director of the Sanger Center at the University of Cambridge.
In 2002, he co-authored the book “The Clues to Life: The Story of Science, Politics, Scientific Research, and the Human Genome” with Jockey Ferry, and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.