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Recent Advances and a Prospect on the Future Development of Quality Assessment of Traditional Chinese Medicines

WANG Zheng-Tao* Department of Pharmacognosy, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 210038;Shanghai R&D Center for Standardization of Chinese Medicines, Shanghai 201203, China  
In the last decades, great advancements have been made in the field of modernization and standardization of TCM and TCM products, aided by the rapid development of biological and analytical sciences and technologies. Many novel developed techniques such as chromatography, spectrometry and their tandem utilization greatly facilitated the progresses in the quality evaluation and standardization of TCM herbs and final products. As a result, more advanced qualitative and quantitative methodologies have been applied in the latest version of Chinese Pharmacopoeia (2005).TCM prescriptions are complex mixtures normally composed of numerous herbs and even a single herb may contain hundreds of chemical ingredients, nevertheless only a small portion of them has been known up today. Western people show an increasing interest in TCM products but are worried about their quality. The so-called “Toxicity” problem of TCM products is argued recently, which is becoming an obstacle for internationalization of TCM.Undoubtedly the success of TCM will depend very much on our ability to understand the regulatory requirements, scientific development, intellectual property protection, quality assurance, production standardization, and other relevant issues. Among them, the most important one, we believe, is the standardization of TCM, which is fundamental to its commercialization and internationalization. To reach this goal, persistent effort should be strived to the following aspects:(1)Interpretation of the theory hypothesis of TCM medication; (2)Protection and sustainable utilization of natural resources of medicinal materials; (3)Elucidation of the active components responsible for the actions and indications in TCM crude and formulated drugs; and (4)High evaluation and assessment of the quality of TCM products. Although we still have a long way to go, we will never give up.
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