From concept to clinic: An African experience with herbal medicines

[Speaker] Mohamed T. Khayyal:1
1:Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Egypt

The use of herbal medicines is favored today among many beliefs that they have fewer side effects than conventional synthetic drugs. Many were empirically prepared with various claims of activity to treat disease and enhance general wellbeing but without sufficient evidence of usefulness.
It is therefore essential to encourage the cooperation between pharmacologists and the pharmaceutical industry in order to provide evidence for transferring a concept to the bedside. Developing models for human disease helps to establish evidence of mechanisms of action and therapeutic usefulness. This presentation gives examples of collaboration of an African pharmacologist with the German pharmaceutical industry.
Identifying potential new therapeutic indications for herbal medicines can be realized from our experience with STW5 (Iberogast, Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH, Bayer Consumer Health, Darmstadt, Germany) a standardized multi-component multi-target herbal preparation consisting of 9 herbal extracts originally configured to treat gastro-intestinal upsets and later proved clinically effective in functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome. More recent experimental evidence showed it to be effective in inflammatory bowel disease and to protect against the development of intestinal mucositis following exposure to radiotherapy. The implication of the gut microbiota has also been recently established in our lab.
The use of Curcuma in arthritic disorders has been well documented but is hampered by its poor bioavailability. Many attempts have been made to enhance its bioavailability by novel formulations the most effective of which was incorporating it into micelles (AQUANOVA, Darmstadt, Germany) thereby also greatly enhancing its anti-inflammatory properties and reducing markedly its effective oral dose. The experimental evidence using the rat adjuvant arthritis model paves the way towards introducing the novel formulation for human use at a very low risk of exerting undesirable effects. The anti-inflammatory effect of micellar curcuma has been shown to be markedly enhanced by combining it with boswellia or xanthohumol based on an underlying multi-target mechanism of action.
In conclusion Africa has vast capabilities in studying herbal medicines. The cooperation between academia and industry is essential for providing an evidence base for the effective and safe use of herbal medications.

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