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The aim of our work is to determine the cellular mechanisms underlying the benefits of traditional multi-herbal Chinese medicines.

Our laboratory has been newly established to study clinically effective Chinese herbal medicines in co-operation with the Shaanxi Momentum Pharmaceutical Company. The lab arose from a one-year research project designed to study the antiarrhythmic properties of a multi-herbal medicine, Xin Su Ning (XSN, 心速宁). The initial studies showed that XSN prolonged the action potential duration in cardiac myocytes, resembling the action of class III antiarrhythmic drugs.

It is well know that clinically effective, single chemical antiarrhythmic drugs can have adverse reactions in patients, some life-threatening. Searching for effective and safe drugs for cardiac arrhythmias has been a major focus of cardiac electrophysiological drug studies for decades.

Chinese herbal medicine has been used in humans for thousands of years and is often prescribed as a multi-herbal formula to treat disease. The multi-herbal formulas are guided by the belief and theory of treating the patient as a system. Therefore, the specific targets of such medicine may not be as clear as for single chemical drugs. 

Our research interests are: 1) to explore the mechanism underlying the clinically-proven, antiarrhythmic effects of XSN, and 2) to narrow down the active components of the medicine using the extracted compounds in combination and individually. Our main method is cardiac cellular electrophysiology. We are also working with departmental colleagues who are interested in using their research methods, such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy and dynamic nuclear polarisation, to study the effects of XSN.

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