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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 456747, 12 pages
Research Article

An Integrative Platform of TCM Network Pharmacology and Its Application on a Herbal Formula, Qing-Luo-Yin

Bo Zhang,1,2 Xu Wang,1 and Shao Li1

1Bioinformatics Division and Center for Synthetic and Systems Biology, TNLIST/Department of Automation, Tsinghua University, Room 1-107, FIT Building, Beijing 100084, China
2Joint Computational Center of Drug Discovery, Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biotechnology & Medicine, Tianjin 300457, China

Received 6 January 2013; Accepted 4 February 2013

Academic Editor: Aiping Lu

Copyright © 2013 Bo Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The scientific understanding of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been hindered by the lack of methods that can explore the complex nature and combinatorial rules of herbal formulae. On the assumption that herbal ingredients mainly target a molecular network to adjust the imbalance of human body, here we present a-self-developed TCM network pharmacology platform for discovering herbal formulae in a systematic manner. This platform integrates a set of network-based methods that we established previously to catch the network regulation mechanism and to identify active ingredients as well as synergistic combinations for a given herbal formula. We then provided a case study on an antirheumatoid arthritis (RA) formula, Qing-Luo-Yin (QLY), to demonstrate the usability of the platform. We revealed the target network of QLY against RA-related key processes including angiogenesis, inflammatory response, and immune response, based on which we not only predicted active and synergistic ingredients from QLY but also interpreted the combinatorial rule of this formula. These findings are either verified by the literature evidence or have the potential to guide further experiments. Therefore, such a network pharmacology strategy and platform is expected to make the systematical study of herbal formulae achievable and to make the TCM drug discovery predictable.