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   Oct 31

Harmonising EU research on traditional Chinese medicines

Traditional Chinese medicine is based on an individual and holistic approach to describe health and disease – it emphasises a harmony of bodily functions.

EU-funded project GP-TCM (‘Good Practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine Research in the Post-Genomic Era’) was set up to assess current EU research practice on the use, safety and efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine. In particular, the project focused on herbal medicines and acupuncture.

The project’s researchers say that their application of emerging technologies such as functional genomics and systems biology to analyse traditional Chinese medicine might help EU pharmaceutical companies innovate and discover new types of drugs.

The researchers studied best practices and issues in research being done in 27 EU Member States on traditional Chinese medicine. They fostered an exchange of opinions, experience and expertise among scientists in EU countries and China.

Based on this information, GP-TCM’s researchers reviewed current issues and solutions in quality control, extraction and analysis of existing data on Chinese traditional medicine. They also contributed to research into traditional Chinese medicine by:

– developing a European-Chinese network for collaborating on functional genomics research;
– reviewing current research practice, identifying problems and proposing ways forward;
– proposing standard methodological protocols;
– identifying priority areas for future research;
– developing online resources to support best practices and to improve pan-European studies;
– helping to foster sustainable European collaboration by founding a European society dedicated to research in this field.

The project’s guidelines for harmonising research across the EU were published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. The project also worked to strengthen EU collaboration with China in this field of research.

The Good Practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine Research Association, created during the project, will carry on with the work. The Association is coordinated by founding president Professor Rudolf Bauer from the University of Graz, Austria.

He says the association believes that the challenges of researching traditional Chinese medicine can only be solved through an interdisciplinary network, using the most advanced methodologies of the post- genomic era.

The expertise of the GP-TCM consortium and the ideas garnered from new members will enable researchers to develop and implement good practices in an integrated way, Professor Bauer says.

Dr. Qihe Xu from King’s College London and the coordinator of the GP-TCM consortium says founding the research association for promoting high-quality evidence-based research is one of the most important milestones of the project.

“This will prove to be a critical step towards sustainable development of traditional Chinese medicine research worldwide,” he says.

The project involved 200 scientists, clinicians and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine from 112 institutions in 24 countries. GP-TCM received EUR 1.1 million in funding from the EU. The project completed its work in October 2012.

For more information, please visit:

Good Practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine Research Association

Project factsheet

Kings College London

Source: CORDIS

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