Saturday, April 10, 2010

Keys to Herbal Medicines are Unlocked

Tiny worms employed to unlock keys to herbal medicines

A one herb contains many ingredients, and a collection of herbs in one herbal formula may contain hundreds of ingredients, the single herb or ingredient that cause the medicinal benefits was not known. Using tiny worms that live only 20 days, it can be sorted out which compound in a herbal formulation showed the most potential for their stated purpose.

As there is a high level of (common genetic origin) with nematode and humans, testing single herbs with C .elegans worms and then testing those herbs on well-characterized mutant worms, enables scientists to find the missing genes.

C. elegans has very short life cycle and is suitable for conducting rapid experiments, and between 60-80 percent of the 20,000 genes in C. elegans genome have similar origins to human genes.

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