Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Deep sequencing reveals potentially toxic, trade-restricted ingredients in some traditional Chinese medicines

Date:
April 12, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Researchers have used new DNA sequencing technology to reveal the animal and plant composition of traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs). Some of the TCM samples tested contained potentially toxic plant ingredients, allergens, and traces of endangered animals.

Photographs of four TCM samples genetically audited in this study using high throughput sequencing. (A) Bear Bile crystals, (B) Saiga Antelope Horn powder, (C) Yatong Yili Wan capsules, and (D) Babao Ching Hsin San powder.
Credit: Megan L. Coghlan, James Haile, Jayne Houston, Dαithν C. Murray, Nicole E. White, Paula Moolhuijzen, Matthew I. Bellgard, Michael Bunce. Deep Sequencing of Plant and Animal DNA Contained within Traditional Chinese Medicines Reveals Legality Issues and Health Safety Concerns. PLoS Genetics, 2012; 8 (4): e1002657 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002657

Researchers at Murdoch University have used new DNA sequencing technology to reveal the animal and plant composition of traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs). Some of the TCM samples tested contained potentially toxic plant ingredients, allergens, and traces of endangered animals.
 
“TCMs have a long cultural history, but today consumers need to be aware of the legal and health safety issues before adopting them as a treatment option,” Dr Bunce, research leader and Murdoch University Australian Research Council Future Fellow, said.
 
The 15 TCM samples, seized by Australian border officials, in the form of powders, tablets, capsules, flakes, and herbal teas were audited using the DNA preserved in the samples. The results are published in the journal PLoS Genetics.
 
“In total we found 68 different plant families in the medicines – they are complex mixtures of species,” Dr Bunce said. “Some of the TCMs contained plants of the genus Ephedra and Asarum. These plants contain chemicals that can be toxic if the wrong dosage is taken, but none of them actually listed concentrations on the packaging.”
 
“We also found traces from trade restricted animals that are classified as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, including the Asiatic black bear and Saiga antelope.”
 
Until now it has been difficult to determine the biological origins of ingredients contained within TCMs because processing into pills and powders makes identification difficult.
 
PhD student Megan Coghlan, who is studying the application of DNA techniques in wildlife forensic applications, said the research shows that second-generation, high throughput sequencing is an efficient and cost-effective way to audit the species composition. “The approach has the ability to unravel complex mixtures of plant and animal products,” Ms Coghlan said.
 
Further testing of TCMs would reveal the extent of the problem and make it easier for customs officials to identify the trade of endangered species.  The increasing popularity of the medicines has seen the value of the industry increase to hundreds of millions of dollars per annum.
 
“We found multiple samples that contained DNA from animals listed as trade-restricted according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Legislation. Put simply, these TCMs are not legal,” Ms Coghlan said.
 
Another concern is the mislabelling of TCMs, meaning consumers are unaware of the presence of some ingredients, including animal DNA and potential allergens such as soy or nuts.
 
“A product labelled as 100 per cent Saiga antelope contained considerable quantities of goat and sheep DNA,” Dr Bunce said. “Another product, Mongnan Tianbao pills, contained deer and cow DNA, the latter of which may violate some religious or cultural strictures.”

Incorrect labelling makes it difficult to enforce legislation and to prosecute cases of illegal trade. “It is hoped that this new approach to genetically audit medicinal products will bring about a new level of regulation to the area of complementary and alternative medicine,” Dr Bunce said. “Auditing TCMs would assist in prosecuting individuals who seek to profit from the illegal trade in animal products.”
 
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the International Wildlife Trade Section (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) supplied the seized TCM samples that were tested in this research. Dr Bunce and his team plan to expand the use of these new DNA tests to evaluate other herbal medicines.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Megan L. Coghlan, James Haile, Jayne Houston, Dαithν C. Murray, Nicole E. White, Paula Moolhuijzen, Matthew I. Bellgard, Michael Bunce. Deep Sequencing of Plant and Animal DNA Contained within Traditional Chinese Medicines Reveals Legality Issues and Health Safety Concerns. PLoS Genetics, 2012; 8 (4): e1002657 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002657

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Deep sequencing reveals potentially toxic, trade-restricted ingredients in some traditional Chinese medicines." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412182328.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, April 12). Deep sequencing reveals potentially toxic, trade-restricted ingredients in some traditional Chinese medicines. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412182328.htm
Public Library of Science. "Deep sequencing reveals potentially toxic, trade-restricted ingredients in some traditional Chinese medicines." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412182328.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins