10th Dec 2015 - Story on Megan Conglans TCM work.
link to the (open access) paper is here: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep17475
Tests find traditional medicines contain pharmaceuticals, heavy metals and endangered animals
A collaborative study led by Curtin University has found high rates of adulteration, substitution and mislabelling of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM), with the undeclared ingredients rendering many of the tested samples either illegal or potentially hazardous to consumers.
Lead researcher Professor Michael Bunce, of Curtin’s Department of Environment and Agriculture, said a combination of specialised techniques used together for the first time revealed 92 per cent of the TCM products tested had some form of adulteration or substitution.
“Adulterants discovered in the 26 products tested included toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead; medications such as paracetamol, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics, and stimulants such as pseudo ephedrine. Of particular concern were heavily regulated drugs such as warfarin and sildenafil (Viagra),” Professor Bunce said.
Researchers from Curtin, Murdoch University and the University of Adelaide employed a three-pronged method involving highly sensitive DNA sequencing, toxicology and heavy metal testing which, when combined, allowed them to assess the true composition of the TCMs. The findings have just been published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
Professor Bunce said half the medicines tested contained at least one undeclared compound, while half contained plant or animal species not listed as ingredients on the product packaging.
“The most concerning animal ingredient found in this batch of TCM was that of the endangered species, the snow leopard,” Curtin researcher Dr Megan Coghlan said.
Dr Coghlan, whose PhD involved teasing DNA out of these TCMs, said the result demonstrated that despite heavy penalties for illegal trafficking of protected wildlife, poaching and smuggling was still occurring - with traditional medicine a significant ‘push factor’.
“Moreover, consumers of this particular medicine would be unaware that they have been ingesting content from this species, as it was not listed as an ingredient,” Dr Coghlan said.
Other species detected in the Adelaide-purchased TCMs tested included pit viper, frog, rat, cat and dog, although it was not clear if these were intended ingredients or the result of poor manufacturing practices.
3rd Dec 2015 - Stories on Kimberley Corals
Nov/15 a story on Michael Stat’s work on invasive marine species. http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/fisheries-a-water/item/3905-genetic-barcoding-system-scans-marine-species-for-pests#k2Container