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Curr Oncol Rep. 2002 Jan;4(1):56-62.

Thalidomide: an antineoplastic agent.

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Scott Department of Urology, Baylor College of Medicine, 6560 Fannin, Suite 2100, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


It has been more than three decades since the withdrawal of thalidomide from the marketplace. Thalidomide is attracting growing interest because of its reported immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Current evidence indicates that thalidomide reduces the activity of the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha by accelerating the degradation of its messenger RNA. Thalidomide inhibits angiogenesis. Recently, thalidomide was approved for sale in the United States for the treatment of erythema nodosum leprosum, an inflammatory complication of Hansen's disease. Thalidomide has been used successfully in several other dermatologic disorders, including aphthous stomatitis, Behcet's syndrome, chronic cutaneous systemic lupus erythematosus, and graft-versus-host disease, the apparent shared characteristic of which is immune dysregulation. Many recent studies have evaluated thalidomide in patients with HIV infection, in which this drug is an efficacious agent against oral aphthous ulcers, HIV-associated wasting syndrome, HIV-related diarrhea, and Kaposi's sarcoma. Only in the last several years has thalidomide been aggressively investigated for its antiangiogenic potential and immunomodulatory properties in various tumor types. Current research on thalidomide in oncology covers investigation in a wide range of both solid tumors and hematologic malignancies.

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