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New Center To Provide Leadership on Natural Product-Drug Interactions

September 14, 2015
Craig Hopp
D. Craig Hopp, Ph.D.

Program Director
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View Dr. Hopp's biographical sketch

We at NCCIH are excited to announce our grant for a new Center of Excellence for Natural Product Drug Interaction Research, a funding opportunity announcement about which I blogged in 2014. The award totals approximately $10 million over a period of 5 years.

The study of natural product-drug interactions is an important priority area for NCCIH in light of the widespread availability and use of these products by the public. Well-studied examples include St. John’s wort and grapefruit juice, which can interact with many medications and interfere with their intended effects. Viewed as a whole, these kinds of interactions can range from mild to severe or even life-threatening.

So far, the data in the field has been highly variable in quality and/or relatively sparse. For example, little is known about the pharmacokinetics of the individual product constituents responsible for these interactions. This situation has led to sometimes-conflicting reports and to confusion on the part of health care providers, patients, and researchers regarding the exact magnitude of this problem.

The new Center will provide leadership by developing a roadmap for the study of these interactions. Its goals include:

  • Conducting a series of well-designed preclinical and clinical studies on four to six priority natural products that potentially have risks for clinically relevant interactions with drugs.
  • Creating an open-access repository for the data and methodology resources developed under the grant.
  • Developing and sharing best practices recommended for the conduct of natural product-drug interaction studies, based on experience with Center projects and their results.

A multidisciplinary team of leading scientists in the fields of pharmacology, natural products chemistry, bioinformatics, drug interactions, and health communications will lead the Center. Danny Shen, Ph.D., professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Washington, and Mary Paine, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Pharmacy at Washington State University, are the co-principal investigators, with collaborators to include scientists at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

We look forward to this new Center contributing to and accelerating the path of research on this important public health problem. On the clinical side, it’s always good to remember that health care providers should ask about, and patients should discuss, all the dietary supplements and drugs that a patient is taking.


Comments are now closed for this post.

Knowing the true interaction potential for the most commonly used natural products is paramount. What is a challenge is taking this high quality natural product information and applying it to finished products that consumers use.The natural products sold to consumers are a moving target with respect to natural product “doses”, the use of combination natural products, and the ever changing formulations.We should establish a framework that can address these issues using a methodological approach.  This is a sorely needed area for high quality research. Thank you for prioritizing drug interaction research.Candy Tsourounis, PharmDProfessor of Clinical PharmacyUCSF School of Pharmacy 

I look forward to qualitative and quantitative data from these trials.  I am also curious of which natural products were considered priority and how were they chosen?

I agree with Candy.  It is essential to be able to quantify the data to provide qualitative and reliable results that the public, medical community, and corporate industry can rely on. 

Considering that a large number of US population is taking natural product supplements daily, understanding how their ingredients interact (both positively or negatively) is of paramount interest. I have been working out the ways natural product/supplements affect immune response. I will be happy to contribute or collarate with other colleagues in this challenging yet exciting area. Establishing a quantifiable immune response indices for dietary supplements will be quite helpful and is a definite MUST.

Great Milestone!routinely on dietary perspective many people are consuming natural dietary supplement whose interaction is not know.This all this could best answered by such already working on one dietary supplement frequently used by HIV POSITIVE PEOPLE,but would wish to be guided on how to go about this proposal or who to contact..Regards,Richard lando

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