Traditional chinese medicine research in the post-genomic era: good practice, priorities, challenges and opportunities
Uzuner, H, Bauer, R, Fan, TP, Guo, De-an, Dias, A, El-Nezami, H, Efferth, T, Williamson, EM, Heinrich, M, Robinson, N, Hylands, PJ, Hendry, BM, Cheng, Y & Xu, Q 2012, 'Traditional Chinese medicine research in the post-genomic era: good practice, priorities, challenges and opportunities', Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 140, pp. 458-468.
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Background and aims
GP-TCM is the 1st EU-funded Coordination Action consortium dedicated to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) research. This paper aims to summarise the objectives, structure and activities of the consortium and introduces the position of the consortium regarding good practice, priorities, challenges and opportunities in TCM research. Serving as the introductory paper for the GP-TCM Journal of Ethnopharmacology special issue, this paper describes the roadmap of this special issue and reports how the main outputs of the ten GP-TCM work packages are integrated, and have led to consortium-wide conclusions.
Materials and methods
Literature studies, opinion polls and discussions among consortium members and stakeholders.
By January 2012, through 3 years of team building, the GP-TCM consortium had grown into a large collaborative network involving ∼200 scientists from 24 countries and 107 institutions. Consortium members had worked closely to address good practice issues related to various aspects of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) and acupuncture research, the focus of this Journal of Ethnopharmacology special issue, leading to state-of-the-art reports, guidelines and consensus on the application of omics technologies in TCM research. In addition, through an online survey open to GP-TCM members and non-members, we polled opinions on grand priorities, challenges and opportunities in TCM research. Based on the poll, although consortium members and non-members had diverse opinions on the major challenges in the field, both groups agreed that high-quality efficacy/effectiveness and mechanistic studies are grand priorities and that the TCM legacy in general and its management of chronic diseases in particular represent grand opportunities. Consortium members cast their votes of confidence in omics and systems biology approaches to TCM research and believed that quality and pharmacovigilance of TCM products are not only grand priorities, but also grand challenges. Non-members, however, gave priority to integrative medicine, concerned on the impact of regulation of TCM practitioners and emphasised intersectoral collaborations in funding TCM research, especially clinical trials.
The GP-TCM consortium made great efforts to address some fundamental issues in TCM research, including developing guidelines, as well as identifying priorities, challenges and opportunities. These consortium guidelines and consensus will need dissemination, validation and further development through continued interregional, interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaborations. To promote this, a new consortium, known as the GP-TCM Research Association, is being established to succeed the 3-year fixed term FP7 GP-TCM consortium and will be officially launched at the Final GP-TCM Congress in Leiden, the Netherlands, in April 2012.