Home > Current Events > Year 2011 December
A review of stories making the headlines.

TCM helps fight AIDS
China Daily, 1 December 2011

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has helped 17,000 HIV carriers and AIDS patients in China since 2004, experts said. ¡§TCM can be a effective complement to Western therapy in terms of alleviating AIDS symptoms, including fever, cough, asthenia and diarrhea, thus making life easier for the patients,¡¨ said Wang Jian, deputy director of the TCM Center for AIDS Prevention and Treatment. Wang said that Chinese government has allocated 220 million yuan since 2004 for TCM therapy research, and further efforts will be made to develop better treatment based on a combination of TCM and Western medicine. By the end of 2011, China is estimated to have 780,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, including 154,000 patients with full-blown afflictions, official statistics show.

Chinese auction flaunts tiger trade ban
PR Newswire, 1 December 2011

A Chinese auction of traditional health tonics in Beijing features at least 400 bottles of wine made from tiger bone in blatant disregard of a global trade ban, according to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare). ¡§IFAW has alerted the Chinese authorities to this illegal trade and urge them to shut down this auction,¡¨ said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for IFAW. IFAW discovered hundreds of bottles of ¡§tiger bone wine¡¨ from various TCM manufacturers listed in the online catalogue of Beijing auction house Googut, which claimed the products were produced before a 1993 Chinese trade ban on all tiger bone products. ¡§It doesn't matter whether they are pre-ban or not, their trade is forbidden by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and domestically in all tiger range states,¡¨ said Gabriel.

6 charged with fraud in medical care
EastDay.com, 2 December 2011

Shanghai, 6 people who allegedly opened an unlicensed hospital and defrauded 22 patients of more than 100,000 yuan through charging high fees on ¡§cure-all¡¨ prescriptions and drugs have been arrested and charged. The main suspect, 23-year-old Li Bing, opened an illegal hospital with a forged business license, and hired fellow villagers from his hometown to work in his hospital. He also found Yang Rong, a retired rural doctor, to see patients, boasting that Yang was a famous TCM professor. To attract more patients, Li contacted medical agents and paid 100 yuan each as commissions for referral.

Chinese herb mix may cool hot flashes a bit
Reuters, 2 December 2011

A mix of certain traditional Chinese herbs thought to have weak estrogen-like activity might help ease menopausal hot flashes, a small clinical trial suggests. For the study, which reported in the journal Menopause, researchers in China randomly assigned 72 women between the ages of 45 and 55 and either had irregular menstrual periods, or had recently stopped menstruating, and all said they were having at least 14 bouts of hot flashes per week. After 8 weeks, women on the herbal mix showed a 70% drop in their hot flash score. The placebo group also showed a big, though not as dramatic, improvement: a 56% decline in hot flash scores.

Progress in the hunt for hepatitis C cure
China Daily, 5 December 2011

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is very serious in China, which accounts for about 25% of the 170 million global HCV infections, according to China's largest HCV survey released lately. Most Chinese HCV patients (58.2% of those surveyed) are infected with genotype 1, a relatively difficult form of the disease to treat, said Wei Lai who coordinated the survey. He added that the Ministry of Health has listed HCV as one of the top 12 diseases that the government will focus on preventing and treating in coming years. For HCV treatment, drug resistance has been a problem for scientists for years. Although there is no therapy that can treat patients in the long run without any resistance, gradual progress has been made.

Acupuncture hope for cancer pain
Englemed Health News, 6 December 2011

German researchers say that acupuncture may help relieve pain in patients undergoing cancer treatment and that they have found a scientific way of showing this, reported in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine. Researcher Dr Sven Schroeder studied the benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of limb pain caused by chemotherapy. The pain can affect the calves and feet and cause problems walking. Some six patients received acupuncture in the research and their progress was compared with another six volunteers. The researchers used nerve conduction studies, to measure the speed and intensity of signals of two nerves in the calf. Five have showed improvements who underwent acupuncture, while just one in those who did not receive the treatment. Dr Shroeder, of the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, says the findings are ¡§encouraging¡¨.

China's cabinet approves plan to strengthen drug safety
English.news.cn, 7 December 2011

The State Council of China approved a blueprint to establish a credit rating system and intensify monitoring for pharmaceutical groups to boost the country's drug safety over the next five years. The 2011-2015 plan set the general goal of ¡§sharply¡¨ increasing the level of safety and ensuring all pharmaceutical products meet the standards of a newly revised regulation at the end of 2015, said the statement. The country will also try to improve its standards for chemical medicines and biological products in line with the international level and take the lead in making international standards for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Other key objectives include ensuring the supply of basic medicine, establishing a credit rating system for drug companies, and regulating the pricing and circulation of medical products.

Sino-Danish researchers discover mushroom with cancer-beating properties
English.news.cn, 8 December 2011

A Sino-Danish research team has identified a new class of compounds in a common mushroom, which could be used to develop cancer-beating drugs, the University of Copenhagen said. According to Soeren Broegger Christensen, the professor who led the research, the unique chemical structure of mushroom could make it a potent weapon in the battle against cancer cells. ¡§This is a completely new class of natural compounds, which makes the research results unique,¡¨ Christensen said, ¡§the mushroom is 100 times less active, and significantly less toxic, towards benign human cells than malignant cancer cells, based on laboratory models.¡¨ Currently, the team is working to synthesize and refine the natural substances of the mushroom so that they might be used in future drug development.

Pledge to boost wildlife fight
China Daily, 10 December 2011

Enforcement officers on the front line of China's fight against wildlife smugglers will receive more funding and advanced technology, as part of new measures to tackle the menace, authorities said. The country will also boost cross-department and cross-border cooperation to further protect endangered species and crack down on the illegal animal trade. Yin Hong, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, one of five government agencies that have formed a joint law-enforcement detachment on animal protection, said the country has made and enforced a series of laws and regulations to protect wild fauna and flora, as well as invested heavily in the construction of reserves and habitats of wild animals. However, due to traditional Chinese medicine and people's eating habits, the demand for wild animals and plants is still great in China. Wildlife groups have welcomed the pledge to improve enforcement against smugglers.

Federal center pays good money for suspect medicine
Chicago Tribune, 11 December 2011

A tribune examination of hundreds of The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) grants, dozens of scientific papers, 12 years of NCCAM documents and advisory council meeting minutes found that the center has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on studies with questionable grounding in science. The center's recently adopted strategic plan focuses on studies of supplements and other natural products along with the effect of ¡§mind and body¡¨ therapies like yoga, massage and acupuncture on pain and other symptoms. In fiscal years 2008-2011, NCCAM funded more than $140 million in grants involving mind and body therapies, including $33 million for pain research in fiscal 2011.

Anti-influenza virus effect of aqueous extracts from dandelion
7th Space Interactive, 14 December 2011

In TCM, dandelion is a common ingredient in many remedies, and evidence suggests that it is associated with a variety of pharmacological activities. In a study, an aqueous extract from dandelion was tested for in vitro antiviral activity against influenza virus type A. The results showed that dandelion extracts inhibited infections in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells or Human lung adenocarcinoma cell line (A549), as well as inhibited polymerase activity and reduced virus nucleoprotein (NP) RNA level. The plant extract did not exhibit any apparent negative effects on cell viability, metabolism or proliferation at the effective dose. Mechanisms of reduction of viral growth in MDCK or A549 cells by dandelion involve inhibition on virus replication.

First meeting of Committee on Research and Development of Chinese Medicines
7th Space Interactive, 21 December 2011

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Committee on Research and Development of Chinese Medicines formed under the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) held its first meeting. The Committee has replaced the Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine Limited as the platform for the Government to solicit views on how best to support research and development, testing and promotion of Chinese medicine development in Hong Kong. The Committee has been set up under ITC and is chaired by the Commissioner for Innovation and Technology. Members of the Committee have been appointed by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development for a two-year term from December 15, 2011, to December 31, 2013.

Compiled By:
Rose Tse, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.