iSGTW - International Science Grid This Week
iSGTW - International Science Grid This Week

Home > iSGTW 14 May 2008 > iSGTW Feature - Proofing an ancient wisdom: medicinal herbs meet grid technology


Feature - Proofing an ancient wisdom: medicinal herbs meet grid technology

What will the meeting of ancient wisdom with hi-tech science reveal about the disease-fighting activity of Thailand’s medicinal herbs?
Images courtesy of ThaiGrid

Medicinal herbs have been part of Thailand’s way of life since ancient times. This is especially true in remote rural areas, where drugs are expensive and ancient wisdom still has an effect on people’s lives. Now, thanks to the efforts of Thai researchers, this wisdom is meeting the hi-tech world.

“Thailand has a large number of medicinal herbs, and many drugs are produced based on medicinal herbs,” reveals Chak Sangma of the Cheminformatics Research Unit at Kasetsart University, Thailand.

“However, many of these drugs are not tested at the chemical level. Hence, it is not very certain which drugs contain which chemical substances, and how they actually cure disease.”

Searching for molecular secrets

To improve this situation, Chak and his team are creating a one-stop-shop: a grid-powered portal where Thai researchers can have centralized access to both the molecular structure of medicinal herbs and molecular docking software. Chak’s database currently contains more than 100,000 3D molecular structures.

“Using molecular docking we can see how well a potential drug molecule can ‘dock’ to a disease enzyme, so we can select the most effective drugs without costly experiments,” says Chak.

This drug design portal, created by a team from Kasetsart University and available through the Thai National Grid Center, allows researchers to screen the molecular structures of substances found in medicinal herbs for their ability to dock with and disable disease-causing proteins.
Image courtesy of ThaiGrid

Such screening requires huge computing power. For this, Chak and his team rely on ThaiGrid, provided by the Thai National Grid Center. “With the power of ThaiGrid, the work we do is finished much faster,” says Chak. “This allows more extensive study of the active substances.”

Access enables a new level of research

Chak and his team are also working with the Thai National Grid Center to build a virtual screening portal, so that researchers can directly experiment with molecules from the database using the power of ThaiGrid. So far, more than 30 positive substances have been found, and further tests are being conducted in the experimental lab to verify the results.

“By providing access to this data and computing power through the portal, we can help drive medicinal herb research to another level,” says Chak. “I hope this scientific approach to medicinal herb-based drug design will be widely adopted in Thailand, and will lead to safer, more cost-effective and better drugs for Thai people. We hope to make life for poor people or people in remote rural areas a little bit better.”

-    Putchong Uthayopas, ThaiGrid

The Thai National Grid Center is a national excellence center under the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Thailand. ThaiGrid consists of more than 1000 processor cores from 16 sites around Thailand, including a 4.3 Teraflops system that acts as a main server.

 iSGTW 22 December 2010

Feature – Army of Women allies with CaBIG for online longitudinal studies

Special Announcement - iSGTW on Holiday

Video of the Week - Learn about LiDAR


NeHC launches social media

PRACE announces third Tier-0 machine

iRODS 2011 User Group Meeting

Jobs in distributed computing


Enter your email address to subscribe to iSGTW.


 iSGTW Blog Watch

Keep up with the grid’s blogosphere

 Mark your calendar

December 2010

13-18, AGU Fall Meeting

14-16, UCC 2010

17, ICETI 2011 and ICSIT 2011

24, Abstract Submission deadline, EGI User Forum


January 2011

11, HPCS 2011 Submission Deadline

11, SPCloud 2011

22, ALENEX11

30 Jan – 3 Feb, ESCC/Internet2


February 2011

1 - 4, GlobusWorld '11

2, Lift 11

15 - 16, Cloudscape III

More calendar items . . .


FooterINFSOMEuropean CommissionDepartment of EnergyNational¬†Science¬†Foundation RSSHeadlines | Site Map