After over 10 years of hard working, the research team led by Prof. Yizhun Zhu from School of Pharmacy of Fudan University has extracted leonurine (also known as SCM-198) from the Chinese herbal medicine Motherwort with obvious curative effect on stroke. The compound can significantly reduce the infarct size of the cerebral cortex caused by cerebral ischemia and improve the symptoms of neurological deficits. At present, this project has been successfully incubated as a national Class I candidate new drug in the National New Drug Creation Comprehensive Technology Platform, and has been published many times in international authoritative academic journals including Stroke, Free Radical Biomedicine and Atherosclerosis. The papers revealed the molecular mechanism of the protective effects of leonurine on cardio-cerebral vascular protection, and expanded the theoretical basis for developing it into a new drug for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular protection. The project has been authorized by Chinese and Japanese invention patents, and Sigma-Aldrich has also listed SCM-198 as a standard compound. Recently, Fudan University and Zhongzhu Healthcare held a global signing ceremony for exclusive transfer contracts of leonurine for RMB 150 million. This is another successful example of the transformation of a major new drug in a Chinese university.
According to Prof. Yizhun Zhu, leonurine has the effect of improving blood circulation and promoting blood circulation. It comes from a traditional gynecological medication. However, for a long time, due to the high cost and heavy workload of extracting the active ingredients from motherwort, the scientific value of its effective monomer has not been completely discovered. Later, he was inspired by the unique efficacy of motherwort to improve blood circulation, which led his research team to explore a new synthetic route and amplify the process to produce it with advanced technology. After over 5 years of unremitting efforts, he successfully extracted the effective monomeric compound, leonurine, from motherwort in 2007. It has shown significant effect on anti-hyperlipidemia and treatment of stroke.
The study has been selected twice as a candidate for the “Eleventh Five-Year Plan” and “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” of the National Major Scientific and Technological Projects. Meanwhile, with the support of Shanghai Science and Technology Commision and the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, Prof. Zhu’team has successfully explored a new synthetic method of leonurine, and conducted a pilot study on optimization and amplification, preclinical pharmacokinetics, quality standards, formulation and long-term toxicity studies. Finally, they have obtained a series of reliable experimental data.
At the signing ceremony, Prof. Dequan Ren, the former deputy director of the State Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Longxing Wang, the former director of the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, as well as Prof. Xican Tang, the academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Professor of Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica all believed that leonurine developed by Prof. Zhu’s team has unique innovation and novelty. It has set an example for the modernization of traditional Chinese medicine.
In recent years, the School of Pharmacy of Fudan University has vigorously promoted the transfer of scientific and technological achievements, promoted the deep integration of science and technology. The school has closely focused on county needs and made breakthroughs in the developing new drugs. The transformation of the excellent results has made a positive contribution to accelerate the construction of a globally influential science and technology innovation center.