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Network Pharmacology: A New Approach for Chinese Herbal Medicine Research

Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1155/2013/621423
  • Review Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacology


The dominant paradigm of “one gene, one target, one disease” has influenced many aspects of drug discovery strategy. However, in recent years, it has been appreciated that many effective drugs act on multiple targets rather than a single one. As an integrated multidisciplinary concept, network pharmacology, which is based on system biology and polypharmacology, affords a novel network mode of “multiple targets, multiple effects, complex diseases” and replaces the “magic bullets” by “magic shotguns.” Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been recognized as one of the most important strategies in complementary and alternative medicine. Though CHM has been practiced for a very long time, its effectiveness and beneficial contribution to public health has not been fully recognized. Also, the knowledge on the mechanisms of CHM formulas is scarce. In the present review, the concept and significance of network pharmacology is briefly introduced. The application and potential role of network pharmacology in the CHM fields is also discussed, such as data collection, target prediction, network visualization, multicomponent interaction, and network toxicology. Furthermore, the developing tendency of network pharmacology is also summarized, and its role in CHM research is discussed.

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