Thalidomide: An old sedative-hypnotic with anticancer activity?

G. Gasparini, A. Morabito, E. Magnani, D. Gattuso, B. Capaccetti, A. M. Alberti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thalidomide is a synthetic derivative of glutamic acid with sedative-hypnotic activity, which caused devastating teratogenic effects in the 1960s. This paper reviews the possible mechanisms of its teratogenic effect, its new therapeutic indications, the proposed mechanisms for its antitumor activity and, finally, reviews published studies of its application in oncology. Current data demonstrates that thalidomide is clinically promising in multiple myeloma, glioblastoma multiforme and renal cell cancer. Furthermore, a beneficial effect of the drug has been proposed in cancer-related cachexia, which merits further investigation. Well-designed, randomized studies are warranted to establish the possible indications of thalidomide as an antitumor compound.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1302-1308
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Investigational Drugs
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Angiogenesis
  • Antitumor agent
  • Thalidomide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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