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Discovery of bioactive natural compounds from Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCMs) used against Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Final Report Summary - TCM-VASC (Discovery of bioactive natural compounds from Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCMs) used against Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).)

Atherosclerosis along with hypertension is the main cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) representing the number one cause of death in the world. Hence, there is a very high interest in the discovery of novel compounds as well as novel pharmacological targets that might be effective in the treatment or prevention of atherosclerosis. Major aim of TCM-VASC is the discovery and characterization of bioactive natural compounds from medicinal plants successfully used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) against Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD). The approach of TCM-VASC is highly interdisciplinary since the project is located at the interface of Traditional Ethnomedicine, Phytochemistry, Food Sciences, Molecular Pharmacology and Preclinical Drug Development.
Before the return phase, the IIF Fellow (Dr. Rongxia Liu) has already done 2-years research work in the European Host Lab (Prof. Verena M. Dirsch, Dr. Atanas G. Atanasov) in CVD-relevant functional cell models. The selected TCMs and their major products have been tested on vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation model. Several natural products have been identified and characterized from TCMs for inhibiting the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC).
In the beginning of return phase, in-vivo studies with several of the most interesting/active compounds was investigated in the Laboratory of the Return Host and focused on the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of the target compounds. After orally or intravenously administered the target compounds in rats, the blood samples were collected at designated time point, the samples were precipitated by acetonitrile and analyzed by LC-MS/MS. The half-life, blood clearance, volume distribution and other pharmacokinetic parameters were achieved after data analysis.
Regarding the training and career development of Dr. Rongxia Liu in return phase, she prepared the proposal for Project supported by the National Science Foundation for Young Scientist Scholars of China; she was invited to give a presentation about her research work supported by EU- Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship. About transferring the knowledge, using the knowledge learned from the Molecular Targets group in European host related to cellular models relevant for CVD, Dr. Liu prepared to setup the experimental conditions in the return host. Under the collaborations with the European host, Dr. Liu has 4 papers published in 2015. Dr. Liu also continued the collaborations with the European host about the virtual screening and following bioactivity evaluation on CVD programs. Under the collaboration with European host, Dr. Liu tried to apply for bilateral Chinese-Austrian Joint Research Projects “From Biomedical Research to translational medicine”, which is offered by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). Unfortunately, it was failed at last. While in the future, there would be more and more collaboration between Dr. Rongxia Liu and the hosts (Vienna University and Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica).
The half-life, blood clearance and volume distribution data obtained from the pharmacokinetic study will provide valuable information that could be used to assess the potential commercial value of the compounds. Furthermore, they will facilitate the design of further in-vivo studies addressing the effectiveness of the discovered compounds in animal models of atherosclerosis. CVD/AS animal models will be the ultimate prove for the in-vivo effectiveness of the identified compounds. The gained knowledge from TCM-VASC program will help to achieve better TCM modernization, with better elucidation of efficacy and safety. The identification and characterization of new inhibitors against CVD gained basic knowledge for drug development. Meanwhile, it would also be beneficial for develop novel functional foods with health-promoting or disease-preventing properties from the TCMs against CVD.