Thalidomide, initially introduced as a sedative, was withdrawn from the market in the early 1960s after it was found to be a teratogen. However, it later found use as an investigational agent in the treatment of erythema nodosum leprosum, oral ulcers, graft versus host disease, and wasting associated with the human immunodeficiency syndrome. Its antiangiogenic properties were recognized in the early 1990s during a period where the importance of angiogenesis became increasingly apparent as a critical step in the in the proliferation and spread of malignant neoplasms. This led to the evaluation of thalidomide as an antiangiogenic agent in the treatment of several cancers. Thalidomide has already become part of standard therapy for the treatment of patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma. It has also been found to have varying degree of benefit in various other malignancies. Although more clinical trials are needed, Kaposi's sarcoma and myelofibrosis represent other malignancies in which thalidomide has already demonstrated promising activity. The mechanism of action of thalidomide in cancer is still unclear, but do appear to be mediated by several other mechanisms in addition to its anti-angiogenic properties. This article reviews the current status of thalidomide for the treatment of non-plasma-cell malignancies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research