Dr Han Quanbin (centre), Dr Chen Hubiao (left) and Dr Xu Jun obtain a US patent for their new method for authenticating Chinese herbal medicine Tiepi Shihu


韓全斌博士(中)、陳虎彪博士(左)和許軍博士研發的新鑑別鐵皮石斛方法獲授美國專利

Tiepi Shihu (left) is hardly distinguishable from other Shihu species


鐵皮石斛(左)和其他品種石斛在外觀上很難區分

Date: 04 Jun 2015 (Thursday)

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Chinese medicine scholars develop patented novel method to authenticate precious Chinese herb Tiepi Shihu

中醫藥學者研發鑑定名貴中藥「鐵皮石斛」新方法 成功取得美國專利

Dr Han Quanbin, Assistant Professor, Dr Chen Hubiao, Associate professor and Dr Xu Jun, Senior Research Assistant of the Teaching and Research Division of the School of Chinese Medicine, have invented a convenient and low-cost method to efficiently authenticate the valuable body strengthening Chinese herbal medicine Tiepi Shihu (Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo). The novel authentication method has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and is being used by a Chinese medicines company in Hong Kong.
 
Tiepi Shihu is the dried stems of Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo, the rarest and most expensive species of Shihu. Tiepi Shihu nourishes the stomach, supplements body fluids, helps tonify yin, clears heat and strengthens the immune system. Due to its scarcity, the Tiepi Shihu found in the market may be mixed with other species of Shihu or may even be counterfeit. 
 
Shihu goes through a process of drying and twisting before being sold. The dried rolls make it impossible to distinguish Tiepi Shihu from other Shihu species solely by appearance. To differentiate Tiepi Shihu from other species, the industry relies on experts, DNA bar-coding or microscopic identification. Nonetheless, DNA bar-coding is costly while microscopic identification has to be conducted by professionals and both methods cannot determine the content of active substances. Moreover, the established chemical methods cannot differentiate Dendrobium officinale from adulterants.
 
The research team conducted a study on the polysaccharide of Tiepi Shihu and other Shihu species. An identical and unique polysaccharide was discovered in all samples of Tiepi Shihu while it was not obviously found in the samples of other Shihu species. The result of the study reveals that this unique polysaccharide can serve as a marker to distinguish Tiepi Shihu from other species of Shihu quickly and effectively. The result of the study was published in international academic journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry in October 2014 (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00216-014-8060-9).
 
This authentication method enables qualitative and quantitative analysis suitable for commercial use, particularly for Chinese medicines proprietors. The invention has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and a patent application has been submitted to the State Intellectual Property Office of Mainland China.
 

中醫藥學院教學科研部助理教授韓全斌博士、副教授陳虎彪博士和高級研究助理許軍博士共同研發了一種快速、簡易及低成本的中藥鑑定方法來區別名貴中藥「鐵皮石斛」。新鑑別方法獲美國專利商標局授予專利權,並獲香港一間中藥公司採用。
 
石斛是蘭科石斛屬植物的乾莖製成的傳統名貴中藥材,鐵皮石斛則是石斛品種中最珍貴、也是最昂貴的一種,具有益胃生津、滋陰清熱、增強免疫能力的功效。因為產量少,鐵皮石斛或會被摻雜其他石斛品種出售,甚至會出現偽品。
 
石斛一般會被烘乾然後扭曲打結後出售,單憑外觀根本無法區別鐵皮石斛與其他石斛品種。業界目前主要依賴專家的經驗,或通過基因鑑定、顯微鑑定等方法來避免購入假的鐵皮石斛。然而,基因鑑定方法成本高,顯微鑑定則要求嚴格的專業訓練,而且兩者都不能確定活性物質的含量,而已有的化學方法亦不能有效區分鐵皮石斛和其他石斛品種。
 
研究團隊進行了一項有關鐵皮石斛與其他品種石斛的多糖成分對比的研究,研究人員在鐵皮石斛各樣本中發現一組相同而獨特的多糖成分,在其他石斛品種的樣本中則沒有明顯地發現。研究結果顯示,以這組獨特的多糖成分作為鑑定鐵皮石斛的標誌成分(即凡有規律出現這標誌物的便是鐵皮石斛),能夠快速、有效地識別鐵皮石斛樣本。研究結果已於2014年10月在國際學術期刊《Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry》上發表(http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00216-014-8060-9)。
 
該項鑑定方法能夠進行定性和定量分析,適合中藥商大量鑑定的商業用途,並於在今年2月獲美國專利商標局授予專利權,亦已向中國知識產權局提交了專利權的申請。