In Chinese medicine, Zheng-hou, instead of disease, is used to define complex medical
problems in clinical practice. In the postgenomics era, it becomes particularly compelling to review the
application of Zheng-hou in characterizing complex clinical problems independent of disease or syndrome.
While disease or syndrome describes a pathological phenotype or phenotypes, Zheng-hou
spells the pathological phenome. Clinical Zheng-hou pharmacology (CZP) is an emerging clinical discipline
that aims to leverage breakthroughs in the genome-wide solutions for complex medical problems through a combination
of the current “omics” technology and the knowledge of Chinese medicine. The concept of CZP suggests that systematic
and standard studies of multiple phenotypes will be important because of the collaborative cross between diversified
external and internal factors at different levels both in vitro and in vivo. In this paper, we discuss the novel phenomic
approaches to the understanding of Zheng-hou and the link of pharmacogenomics to personalized medicine through CZP,
or pharmacophenomics. CZP enables ever-finer mapping of Zheng-hou and detection of dynamic variations in most current
omics platforms. Although major challenges still remain in identifying and effectively investigating the diversity of
Zheng-hou, CZP is expected to pave new paths to the systemic understanding of medical problems. While still at early
stages in the clinical phenome domain, there remains great promise that CZP can help us realize the application of personalized
medicine and contribute to rational holistic diagnosis and treatment.
Keywords: Chinese medicine, Zheng-hou, Clinical Zheng-hou pharmacology, pharmacogenomics, personalized medicine, phenomic.
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