Doctors seek new cures in old medicine

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 September, 1999, 12:00am

Traditional Chinese medicine will become increasingly important in the search for cures in the next millennium, a Yale professor said.

Dr Cheng Yung-chi, Henry Bronson Professor of Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, Yale University, United States, was speaking at a forum on the role of Chinese medicine in the new millennium at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CU).

Top Chinese bioscientists attended the forum to review and discuss topical issues in biological research.

Dr Cheng introduced his research and discussed the potential for developing Chinese medicine and what contribution it could make.

Dr Cheng is also an honorary adviser to the Chinese Medical Material Research Centre at CU.

There are several reasons why Chinese medicine is not accepted in mainstream Western medicine, Dr Cheng said.

The lack of solid clinical evidence that Chinese medicine is effective and the fact that Chinese medicine could not be made with consistent properties were the two main reasons.

The complicated mechanism by which Chinese medicine worksand a lack of understanding of Chinese medicine were further drawbacks, he said.

Physicians and scientists trained in conventional Western medicine tended to be biased, he said.

According to Dr Cheng, the scope of medicine being developed is changing due to the changing make-up of society, spectrum of diseases and health policy.

Nowadays, as the quality of life of patients had improved, the scope of medicine was changing from simply treating diseases to preventing them.

The Chinese Medical Material Research Centre has been engaged in research on drugs to treat diseases of the central nervous system and cardiovascular disorders and for birth control.

It is also organising research programmes on Aids, cancer and hepatitis.

Collaborative efforts are underway with institutes in the mainland and Taiwan to use traditional Chinese medicine to treat patients.

Zero is a summer intern from Hong Kong Shue Yan College