International research centre to integrate western medicine with Traditional Chinese Medicine

By / 8th of December, 2016

A NEW research centre to study how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) could be used to treat some of the world’s deadliest diseases is being launched in Beijing today.

The Global Institute of Traditional Medicine is an international research collaboration between the University of Adelaide in South Australia and a number of leading Chinese universities specialising in traditional medicine research.

The Institute’s overall aim is to study the potential integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine with western medicine and discover new treatments.

Global Institute of Traditional Medicine Director Julie Owens said the new centre would present more opportunities for compound discoveries that could attack harmful cells.

“Traditional Chinese Medicine obviously is a very holistic approach to promoting human health and has been used for over 2000 years,” she said.

“The institute will look to understand how to grow and produce sources that are rich in bioactives, right through to being able to provide practitioners with new techniques to solving world problems.

“There are already TCMs that work on different health concerns including cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So the aim of the institute is to progress the integration of TCM and western medicine to further address those diseases.”

The initial priorities at the University of Adelaide under the Global Institute of Traditional Medicine will be investigating Traditional Medicine-related treatments for glucose intolerance (important in diabetes), gut health and improving the quality of beef meat.

The Institute will not only build upon the research of the different universities but it will also draw upon the expertise of various medical R&D companies in China.

It will also draw upon the work of the University of Adelaide’s Zhendong Australia – China Centre for the Molecular Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which recently identified genes in traditional medicine that work to kill cancer cells.

Compound kushen injection (CKI) has been used for about 10 years in Chinese clinics as an adjunct to western chemotherapy but how it works was previously unknown.

Researchers at the Zhendong Centre used high-throughput next generation sequencing technologies to identify genes and biological pathways targeted by CKI when applied to breast cancer cells grown in the laboratory.

The Global Institute of Traditional Medicine is being launched today at the Beijing Conference Centre in the presence of senior Chinese Government officials, leaders of the Chinese Medicine sector, CEO’s of Traditional Chinese Medicine companies and senior executives of the university partners. Those present will include Mr Jin Xiaoming, Director General of International Co-operation in the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, Mr Cao Zhengkui, Secretary General of the China Association of Chinese Medicine and Mr Huang Luqi, Deputy President of China Academy of Medical Sciences.

Professor Owens said the collaborative centre was the “perfect springboard” and would help fast track Traditional Chinese Medicine research.

“There is increasing evidence of therapeutic benefits from these medicines, but for a truly sustainable global market and widespread adoption in western countries, we need scientifically rigorous testing of the safety and efficacy, or not, of these medicines,” she said.

South Australia’s capital Adelaide has three long-standing public universities, Flinders UniversityUniversity of South Australia and the University of Adelaide, each of which are consistently rated highly in the international higher education rankings.

Key contacts

Julie Owens Director Global Institute of Traditional Medicine
Julie.owens@adelaide.edu.au