Drug Discovery: Primary screening of Traditional Chinese Medicines for anti-cancer activity using high-throughput screening

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Ridings, Amy
Altman, Elliot
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Middle Tennessee State University
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been practiced in Asia for over two thousand years, however it has been mostly overlooked in drug discovery studies. Cancer is one the deadliest and most complicated diseases on the planet. Effective treatment usually involves highly toxic chemotherapies that reduce the patient s quality of life, and many cancers can develop resistance to currently available therapies. New drugs that eliminate these challenges are a must in order to treat cancer effectively. A handful of new drugs for cancer treatment such as Paclitaxel, Arsenic Trioxide and Camptothecin derivatives have come from the TCM vault, but there are thousands more remedies that have yet to be thoroughly studied as potential drugs for cancer treatment. The Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research (TCBMR) has taken on the task of studying TCMs for their potential in the western drug market, and one of its goals is to find new drugs to fight cancer. One of the earliest steps in this process is primary screening, which involves in vitro testing of TCM extracts for cytotoxicity on lung and breast cancer cells and very low toxicity on healthy cells. Using a high-throughput screening technique and fluorescence indicator AlarmarBlue, the effectiveness of each extract sample can be characterized. High throughput screening will allow a large number of extracts and concentrations to be tested simultaneously. AlarmarBlue, which is initially blue in color will be converted to a highly fluorescent pink compound in the presence of viable cells. Completion of primary screening provides information needed for further study of promising extracts and advances them to the next step in the long process of drug discovery.
Drug Discovery, Ethnomedicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Cancer Treatments