While many experimental and clinical studies of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have been reported over recent years, the applications of computational methods to drug discovery from Chinese herbs are still at an early stage. In the light of the spread of TCM to other parts of the world over the last few decades, and the growing number of publications in languages other than Chinese, this article focuses on work published in English and accessible to an international audience. Sources of information in appropriate format are particularly important for informatics, and the growing number of TCM-related databases is discussed. Applications of virtual screening both to the identification of single and multiple target ligands are covered, as are developments in ‘ target fishing’, a novel technique which seeks to identify multiple receptors to which a compound may bind. Finally, the role of informatics in bridging the gulf between the paradigms of TCM and biomedical science is explored, and a discussion presented as to its use in probing the molecular basis of TCM.
Keywords: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), virtual screening, phytochemical, informatics, Chinese herbs, multiple targets, target fishing, inverse docking, paradigm
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