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MIT team explains yin-yang of ginseng

dization or prior approval from the Food and Drug Administration. "You can basically crush it and sell it," Sasisekharan said.

The new results could also lead to medicines patterned after ginseng's key components. As the researchers write in Circulation, the identification of one of these in particular "opens up the exciting possibilities of harnessing [its] chemical scaffold as a prototype for wound-healing compounds."

Sasisekharan emphasizes the importance of Sengupta's interdisciplinary approach to the work. "He had the foresight to integrate the biology of cancer and blood-vessel formation to the pharmacological behavior of this drug and its structure."

MIT's role in the collaboration grew from Sasisekharan's expertise in complex sugars, which turn out to be key to ginseng's activity. "The sites where sugars are attached and how they are attached are unique for each of the molecular constituents, the ratio of which are distinct among the different varieties of ginseng," he explained. In 1999 Sasisekharan's lab developed a new tool for characterizing complex sugars.


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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
30-Aug-2004


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