. . .Chinese scientists have borrowed three ingredients from the country’s traditional medicine practice — a 3,000-year-old approach that aims to regulate the flow of energy in the body — and used modern pharmaceutical technology to devise a formula to tackle dementia, which has no cure.
The resulting blend of ginkgo biloba, ginseng and saffron extracts, called Sailuotong or SLT, is due to enter a late-stage study in Melbourne this month, and a larger clinical trial to validate its impact is slated to begin in China later this year.
The herbal mix offers an untrodden avenue into a research field riddled with failures. Success for SLT could bring the first approved medicine to treat the vascular causes of dementia, a form of age-related deterioration that resembles Alzheimer’s disease. But its backers’ hopes extend beyond dementia: they seek to validate a new approach to pharmaceutical innovation combining the ancient wisdom of traditional medicines with the scientific rigor of modern drug development.
“If we’re successful in treating vascular dementia, it will be a good example of how other traditional Chinese medicines could potentially be developed,” said Zhang Huajian, the Beijing-based director of clinical research at China Shineway Pharmaceutical Group Ltd.
Dementia, afflicting about 50 million people worldwide, is a compelling target. Despite hundreds of clinical trials investigating potential treatments in recent decades, no new drug has been approved since 2003. The five medications sold for Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, provide only modest relief of symptoms. None can slow the disease’s progression. There are no specific drugs for vascular dementia, which SLT targets. (Read more from “Chinese Soup Ingredients May Hold Key to Fighting Dementia” HERE)