Informatics for Traditional Chinese Medicine (i-TCM) Research Group

Traditional Chinese Medicine, also known as TCM, has a long history of being considered as one of the major medical approaches in China. Different from its western counterpart, TCM embraces a holistic rather than a reductionist approach. While medications in western medicine often strive to avoid drug interaction, TCM works oppositely by exploiting the useful interaction among multiple herbs that are used in a formula (prescription). The efficacy of a TCM medication derives from the interaction of these herbs.

Furthermore, while western medicine has only recently begun to popularise the prescription of personalised medicine according to a patient.s genome, Chinese medical doctors have long been practicing the personalised approach. In TCM practice, every prescription is a clinical trial for that patient from the viewpoint of western medical practice. In terms of clinical study, TCM clinical practice is a kind of real-world clinical trial, in which all the practical treatments aim to maximise the effectiveness. Therefore, the clinical data generated in the clinical operations are important to hypothesis generation and clinical guideline development.

Historically in TCM, knowledge was accumulated and formulated through experience, rather than through the support of scientific research. But we have witnessed a significant change in recent years. There is currently a strong push for the globalisation of Chinese medicine and practice. This movement encourages the use of modern techniques, such as statistical and data mining methods, to find the underlying biomedical principles and pathways, and to unlock the secrets of the .ancient. conservative domain of TCM.

Massive amounts of TCM clinical data are now being collected at an increasing pace. Data mining can help unveil the precious hidden knowledge and greatly assist TCM clinical research. Our group will explore, but not be limited to, the following areas:

Domain-driven data mining foundations

  • Effectiveness-driven knowledge discovery
  • Integrative clinical data mining (integrate different TCM data sources)
  • TCM clinical literature-based discovery
  • Data preprocessing and data quality control
  • Novel Methodology in Bioinformatics
  • Novel Methodology in Systems Biology
  • Novel Methodology in Pattern Recognition

Applications in TCM fields (algorithms and software tools)

  • Theory Discovery and hypothesis generation.
  • Clinical Prescription Analysis and Mining (e.g. herbal medicine and acupuncture prescription)
  • TCM Diagnosis (syndrome differentiation)
  • The relationships between TCM entities (e.g. symptoms, syndromes and herbs) to modern biomedical entities (e.g. diseases, laboratory test results and physical tests).
  • Mining from real-world TCM clinical data
  • Mining from TCM clinical trial data
  • Mining from TCM scientific basic databases (e.g. herb database, formula database and disease database)
  • Herbal Drug Design