Circulating Biomarkers for Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remain the No. 1 killer in industrial countries and a main reason for frequent re-hospitalization. Biomarker testing may play a central role in promoting improved clinical outcome, better quality of life, and alleviated socio-economic burden of CVD. Even in this post-cTn (cardiac troponin) and post-BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) era, there are still significant gaps and demands for more reliable and innovative biomarker-based tools for diagnosis and evidence-guided management of CVD. This Special Issue of Acta Pharmacologica Sinica consists of 18 original research or review articles authored by 108 scientists from 15 countries to showcase recent advances in translational and clinical investigations focusing on biomarkers that are released from injured cardiovascular tissues into circulation during various CVD events, such as acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, aortic aneurysms, carotid restenosis, pulmonary hypertension, and cardiac amyloidosis. These collective efforts can benefit future technological development of novel tests for CVD biomarkers.


In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the main therapeutics is the unique TCM medicinal formula, so called Fangji, which is usually composed of multiple herbs and medical materials with integrated multiple therapeutic objects. The modern pharmacological approach to the study of Fangji, however, has been focusing on the isolation and identification of individual active components within a Fangji for cellular and molecular targets. This not only has led to the misinterpretations of mechanisms of Fangji’s therapeutic actions and clinical effectiveness but also has seriously hampered the scientific research and development of TCM in general. Clearly, new omic/systematic and networking paradigms are urgently needed for deep understanding of the unique composition theories and mechanisms of effective combination therapy through TCM Fangji. In this special issue, we continued to introduce Fangjiomics-based combination therapy applications to the discovery of rational combination therapy and precision medicine.


Frontier in Medical Research and Drug Development

This special issue attributes to the 2017 China-Canada-USA Pharmacology/Physiology Conference (CCUPPC), one of the largest initiatives promoting scientific exchanges and research collaborations in the field of pharmacology, physiology and drug development. Specifically, this special issue features review and original articles highlighting the most recent innovations in drug discovery and drug delivery in stroke, mental health, and neurodegenerative disorders; potential mechanisms of novel endogenous peptides, and natural products broadly used in metabolic, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders; and organ preservation, etc. The conference brought scientists from China, Canada, and USA together, and created a new platform for international interaction and collaboration. The conference took place at the University of Toronto, known as the birthplace for insulin, the alma mater of Dr. Norman Bethune, and one of the world's top research-intensive universities.

APS Special Features on Exosomes

Extracellular microvesicles (MVs) and exosomes (EXs) are the major types of extracellular vesicles (EVs) which can carry and transfer molecular messages (proteins, mRNAs and microRNAs,etc). Thereby, EVs could serve to mark the changes of the producing cells and to function on the recipient cells. These features deem EVs as potential biomarkers and pharmacological targets for various diseases including metabolic, vascular and neurological diseases and tumors. The current special feature provides reviews and original research articles on novel pharmacological studies of MVs and EXs.


Cancer Nanobiotechnology

Nanobiotechnology plays a more and more important role in combating cancer. Ideal delivery should maximize drug accumulation at tumors while minimize the unwanted drug exposure to the normal tissues, thus executing cytotoxicity specifically in cancer cells and sparing the healthy cells. Nanotechnology-based targeting delivery has been generally believed as the most promising method to achieve this ultimate goal of pharmacotherapy. Nano drug delivery systems can improve the pharmacokinetics profiles and tumor biodistribution of the antitumor drugs, and enhance their intracellular delivery as well; in addition, the drug instability and water insolubility problems can be solved by encapsulation into nano carriers.


Ion Channels

Ion channels are integral membrane proteins that catalyze the flux of ions across cell membranes, and play fundamental roles in a wide variety of functions throughout the body. In this post-genomic era, when the genes encoding most ion channels have been deciphered with their function remaining elusive yet, a full exploration of the channel proteins has become a new frontier of biological and biomedical research. The present ion channel study is a multidisciplinary research embracing various fields of science. We wish that the Ion Channel special issue would provide new insights into ion channel research and drug discovery.


Cancer Precision Medicine

In this special issue, we have invited 7 reviews to discuss recent advances in precision cancer medicine, which include new PI3K/mTOR pathway inhibitors, endogenous angiogenesis inhibitors, NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy, microRNAs and alternative splicing as potential new diagnostic markers and cancer drug targets, and intra-tumor heterogeneity of cancer cells and their implications in cancer treatment. All of these studies support the new exciting development in cancer medicine in order to tailor effective cancer treatment precisely based on the molecular signatures of cancers in target.

Fangjiomics in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Progress and Perspective

In the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), diseases are treated with a combination of herbs (Fangji) according to the Jun-Chen-Zuo-Shi principle for well-defined roles of targeting major and minor problems. While the empirical Fangji therapy of disease has been proven clinically effective the underlying mechanisms for the combined targets remain mysteries. Fangjiomics systematically studies myriad compatible combinations that act through multiple targets and balance on- and off-targets. By prioritizing targets, Fangjiomics addresses the key components and issues in combination therapies and may lead to novel controllable array-designed therapies to combine less potent elements with more on-target and fewer off-target effects. This forthcoming Special Issue of Acta Pharmacologica Sinica assembles a series of updated omic studies on several famous Fangjis from view of systems biology and network pharmacology.

Nuclear Receptors: Biology, Structures, and Drug Discovery

Nuclear receptors are DNA-binding and ligand-regulated transcriptional factors that play crucial roles in many aspects of human physiology and consist of an important family of drug targets. This year marked the 30thanniversary of the cloning of the first member of the nuclear receptor family and 25th year of the discovery of orphan nuclear receptors, for which no cognate ligands were known at the time of their cloning. Since then we have witnessed a tremendous expansion of our knowledge of this family of receptors. In this special issue, 11 review articles highlight our key understanding of structure, function, disease relevance, and drug discovery of nuclear receptors.


Stem cell therapy and Drug Discovery

During the past few years, we witnessed explosive progress in the field of stem cell research, leading to an increasing hope for more effective cell replacement therapies to treat various diseases. The self-renewal capability of stem cells, combined with their ability to differentiate into different cell types under programmed conditions, enables improved models for drug discovery and mechanism-based studies of diseases, hence laying the foundation for their therapeutic applications. In fact, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based transplantation therapy has already been performed in rodent models.
This special edition of Acta Pharmacologica Sinica on "stem cell therapy and drug discovery" includes 11 articles that highlight both new findings and emerging ideas in different aspects of stem cell technologies, clinical therapies and drug discoveries. The collection of these impressive articles provides an excellent reference map for experts and a point of entry into this exciting research field for the novice.

Autophagy and Drug Discovery

The word autophagy is derived from the Greek roots "auto"(self) and "phagy" (eating) and broadly refers to the cellular catabolic processes, in which cytoplasmic materials are transported to lysosomes for degradation.
Important progress has been achieved in the recent years in defining the role of autophagy in human diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, metabolism disorders, immune-mediated diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, a number of drugs in the clinical trials against cancers, immune diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases affect or act through autophagy. It is conceivable that exploring the molecular mechanisms of autophagy opens an avenue for development of novel drugs to treat these devastating diseases.
In order to give a broad picture on recent progress in autophagy research and help deliver a deep insight into autophagy biology and the related disease, Acta Pharmacologica Sinica launched this special issue on "Autophagy and Drug Discovery". As the editors for this special edition, we invited several experts in China and abroad to contribute 13 articles, which cover the important aspects of basic and clinical research on autophagy and reflect on recent developments in this field.


This issue covers our current understanding of the pathophysiological roles of the ion channels and exchangers involved in non-glutamate mechanisms in cerebral ischemia and stroke, as well as their potential for therapeutic intervention. These non-glutamate mechanisms include TRP channels, KATP channels, chloride channels, acid-sensing ion channels, hemichannels, volume-regulated anion channels, adenosine receptors, nitrogen species, neural precursor cells, retinal ischemia, and neuron glial cells. The articles highlight novel therapeutic strategies for targeting non-glutamate mechanisms to prevent neuronal damage in stroke and to promote neuronal survival, regeneration and functional recovery after stroke, thus providing long-term economic, social, and healthcare benefits worldwide.


G protein-coupled receptors

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of cell surface communicating molecules. They facilitate diverse extracellular signals and, therefore, play a crucial role in numerous physiological processes and diseases. Subsequently, GPCRs have become drug targets for many major diseases. To date, however, only a small proportion of GPCRs have been investigated as targets, so this area still shows great potential in combatting many other diseases. The March 2012 issue contains a special feature on GPCRs including articles by leading experts on GPCR structures, biology, diseases, and drug discovery. Further background information on this important topic is available through the accompanying web focus which links to related articles from across Nature Publishing Group.


Obesity is the primary health threat of the 21st century. The last 30 years have seen a dramatic increase in the prevalence of obesity, especially in the developed countries. Such an increase has played a significant role on the overall health of these nations, and, in turn, has led to significant increases in healthcare expenditure. The February 2012 issue contains a special feature on Obesity including articles by leading experts on several topics that relate to obesity etiology, animal models, therapeutics and clinical implications. Further background information on this important topic is available through the accompanying web focus which links to related articles from across Nature Publishing Group.


Channelopathy and drug discovery

Channelopathies are diseases that result from functional disturbances of ion channels or the proteins that regulate them. The June special issue brings together a selection of articles dealing with the various ion channels, including aquaporins, potassium channels, chloride channels, sodium channels and calcium channels, that are involved in maladies such as cardiovascular disease, brain injury, reproductive disease and kidney disease and the recent advances that have been made in identifying potential drug targets for treating these diseases. The accompanying web focus presents additional links to related articles in this area from across Nature Publishing Group.

APS Highlights 2010

Covering the latest in pharmacology, Acta Pharmacologica Sinica is proud to present some of the most accessed articles during 2010, as chosen by the Editor. These articles highlight the latest within pharmacology and the life sciences, covering a range of topics including cardiovascular medicine, neuroscience, cancer, immunology, molecular cell biology, endocrinology, chemistry, and methods and protocols.


Vascular Biology and Vascular Disease

The October special issue on vascular biology and vascular disease brings together the latest reviews and articles in the field. Together with this web focus APS delves into our current understanding and investigates recent advances in various aspects of vascular injury, including vascular stiffness, vascular aging, phenotypic alteration, lipid transportation, and endothelium dysfunction.

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of APS

The 30th Anniversary Special Issue (September 2010) of APS brings together a series of thought-provoking Perspectives, Reviews and Original Articles on various outstanding issues in pharmacology today. This accompanying web focus provides a collection of recent developments in these fields. Select articles have been set free for a limited time.


Nicotinic Receptors and Nicotine Addiction

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are a superfamily of ligand-gated ion channels which mediate nicotine reward, dependence and addiction. Throughout the central nervous system, neuronal nAChRs exist as multiple, diverse subtypes comprising unique pentamers of genetically distinct subunits. These subtypes each exhibit different function and pharmacology, but their precise roles in nicotine addiction remain elusive. This special issue and accompanying web focus provide an overview of the possible mechanisms of different nAChR subtypes in the mediation of nicotine reward and reinforcement.

Editor's Choice

Spanning a range of topics from bioengineering to neuropharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, cancer chemoprevention research and calcium signaling, APS is proud to present a collection of top review articles from recent years, as chosen by the editor. Complementing this collection, the January issue also includes the latest reviews covering various aspects of pharmacology.