Thalidomide 'may help fight cancer'
Thalidomide 'may help fight cancer'
Jan 22, 2009

Thalidomide, the drug that blighted a generation in the 1960s, may be helpful in treating prostate cancer, doctors have found.
Prostate cancer that cannot be cured may be held back by androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), which prevents the male hormone testosterone fuelling tumours.
Adding thalidomide to ADT increases progression-free survival, the new research has shown. The drug attacks the cancer by blocking the growth of new blood vessels supplying tumours with vital oxygen and nutrients.

It was thalidomide's effect on blood vessel development which led women taking the drug for morning sickness to give birth to babies without limbs.
Doctors tested thalidomide on prostate cancer patients receiving "intermittent" ADT to reduce side effects and the chances of tumours growing resistant to the treatment.
Between treatments, blood tests for prostate specific antigen (PSA) - a marker molecule for prostate cancer - are carried out to see if the disease is returning.
Adding thalidomide increased the typical time before PSA went up after administering ADT from 6.6 to 17 months.

The findings were reported in the Journal of Urology.
Study leader Dr William Figg, from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, US, said: "Thalidomide is associated with an increase in PSA progression-free survival in men with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer after intermittent ADT. These effects were independent of any effects on testosterone. This is the first study to our knowledge to demonstrate the effects of thalidomide using intermittent hormonal therapy."
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