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NEW versions of thalidomide, the world's most notorious pharmaceutical drug, could prove to be potent weapons against cancer, researchers said yesterday.

Thalidomide caused a scandal in the 1960s after pregnant women prescribed the drug for morning sickness gave birth to grossly deformed babies.

Doctors discovered the drug was limiting the development of new blood vessels to growing limbs. But experts believe this property of limiting blood flow can be harnessed to treat cancer by starving tumours of their blood supply.

Combined with chemotherapy, the drug has already been used to treat certain types of cancer. But new research reported yesterday suggests that different versions of thalidomide could be even more effective.

Scientists at St George's Hospital Medical School in London looked at two different kinds of thalidomide derivative, called IMiDs and SelCIDs. They were found to be at least 10 times better than the original drug at preventing the growth of blood vessels.

The drugs were also able to stimulate the immune system and reduce cancer-causing inflammation.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 30, 2002
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