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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 257909, 6 pages
Review Article

Advancing Drug Discovery and Development from Active Constituents of Yinchenhao Tang, a Famous Traditional Chinese Medicine Formula

National TCM Key Lab of Serum Pharmacochemistry, Key Lab of Chinmedomics and Key Pharmacometabolomics Platform of Chinese Medicines, Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, Heping Road 24, Harbin 150040, China

Received 9 May 2013; Revised 4 July 2013; Accepted 8 July 2013

Academic Editor: José Luis Ríos

Copyright © 2013 Aihua 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.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) formula has been playing a very important role in health protection and disease control for thousands of years. Guided by TCM syndrome theories, formula are designed to contain a combination of various kinds of crude drugs that, when combined, will achieve synergistic efficacy. However, the precise mechanism of synergistic action remains poorly understood. One example is a famous TCM formula Yinchenhao Tang (YCHT), whose efficacy in treating hepatic injury (HI) and Jaundice syndrome, has recently been well established as a case study. We also conducted a systematic analysis of synergistic effects of the principal compound using biochemistry, pharmacokinetics and systems biology, to explore the key molecular mechanisms. We had found that the three component (6,7-dimethylesculetin (D), geniposide (G), and rhein (R)) combination exerts a more robust synergistic effect than any one or two of the three individual compounds by hitting multiple targets. They can regulate molecular networks through activating both intrinsic and extrinsic pathways to synergistically cause intensified therapeutic effects. This paper provides an overview of the recent and potential developments of chemical fingerprinting coupled with systems biology advancing drug discovery towards more agile development of targeted combination therapies for the YCHT.