Analyzing structural similarities between compounds derived from traditional oriental medicine and human metabolites, Korean scientists have found scientific evidence in the prescription principle of oriental medicine, which treats diseases with the synergistic effects of multiple compounds.
On March 11, Lee Sang-yup, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST, announced that his research team confirmed the fact that multiple oriental medicine compounds work. His research is based on the synergistic effects of a multi-target approach to investigating the principle mechanisms of action of oriental medicine inside the human body by analyzing the structural similarities between compounds from oriental medicine and human metabolites.
His studies will contribute to the identification of oriental medicine. Until now, oriental medicine was considered unscientific, since it was a mix of multiple compounds, which couldn’t identify mechanisms of action and possible liver toxicity. This is in contrast to Western medicine, which recognizes drugs only when they contain a single active ingredient or component developed around a proof-of-concept test of their activity against a single biological target.
Believing that the natural substances from oriental medicine would affect the course of human metabolites, which are similar in structure, the research team analyzed the structural similarities between compounds from oriental medicine, approved medical drugs, and human metabolites, and predicted the metabolic pathway that might be affected by the compounds of oriental medicine.
He found out that traditional oriental medicine compounds have higher structural similarities with human metabolites than that of current medical drugs. Also, oriental medicine has more substances with higher structural similarities with human metabolites than that of approved drugs of the Western medicine.
The research team said that it shows that oriental medicine compounds could have stronger medicinal effects on various metabolic responses in the human body compared to approved drugs. Also, traditional oriental medicine compounds could be better for a multi-target approach than current medicines as a result.
Professor Lee said, “The studies show that there is a possibility to get good results when utilizing it to treat diseases, which are hard to treat with a single drug, by mixing oriental medicine compounds, which have clear mechanism of action and effect.”
The study was published in the March issue of the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology.