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Thalidomide used to fight cancer


A notorious morning-sickness drug that caused deformities in unborn children in the 1960s may help alleviate prostate cancer, according to reports.

Doctors have found that thalidomide boosts androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) by helping prevent tumours being aggravated by the male hormone testosterone.

The drug attacks the tumours by blocking the growth of new blood vessels – precisely the effect that caused babies to be born without arms and legs.

In tests, cancer patients received intermittent ADT to reduce side effects and the chances of tumours growing resistant to the treatment.

Study leader Dr William Figg, from the National Institutes of Health in the 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.”

The findings are reported in the Journal of Urology.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Journal of Urology

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