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Cordycepin, one of the active components of the Chinese herb cordyceps (Dong Chong Xia Cao), reduces the production of inflammatory gene products in cultured human airway smooth muscle cells - the cells which contract during an asthma attack. Experiments by UK scientists have shown that cordycepin reduces inflammatory gene expression by acting on the final step in the synthesis of their messenger RNAs, the molecules that carry the chemical blueprint for the synthesis of proteins, a process is called polyadenylation. Most anti-inflammatory drugs either work much earlier in the activation pathway of inflammatory genes (e.g. prednisone) or on one of the final products of the inflammatory reaction (e.g. ibuprofen). Since cordycepin acts by a completely different mechanism it may be useful for patients in which anti-inflammatory drugs are ineffective or where their side-effects are a problem. (Inhibition of polyadenylation reduces inflammatory gene induction. RNA. 2012 Dec;18(12):2236-50).