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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 149762, 11 pages
Review Article

Traditional Chinese Medicine-Based Network Pharmacology Could Lead to New Multicompound Drug Discovery

1School of Basic Medical Sciences, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100029, China
2Institute of Basic Research of Clinical Medicine, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China
3School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong
4Institute of Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China

Received 24 September 2012; Accepted 18 October 2012

Academic Editor: Shao Li

Copyright © 2012 Jian Li 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.


Current strategies for drug discovery have reached a bottleneck where the paradigm is generally “one gene, one drug, one disease.” However, using holistic and systemic views, network pharmacology may be the next paradigm in drug discovery. Based on network pharmacology, a combinational drug with two or more compounds could offer beneficial synergistic effects for complex diseases. Interestingly, traditional chinese medicine (TCM) has been practicing holistic views for over 3,000 years, and its distinguished feature is using herbal formulas to treat diseases based on the unique pattern classification. Though TCM herbal formulas are acknowledged as a great source for drug discovery, no drug discovery strategies compatible with the multidimensional complexities of TCM herbal formulas have been developed. In this paper, we highlighted some novel paradigms in TCM-based network pharmacology and new drug discovery. A multiple compound drug can be discovered by merging herbal formula-based pharmacological networks with TCM pattern-based disease molecular networks. Herbal formulas would be a source for multiple compound drug candidates, and the TCM pattern in the disease would be an indication for a new drug.