Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Thalidomide research breakthrough

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have discovered why limb defects occur in babies born to mothers who have taken thalidomide

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, have discovered why limb defects occur in babies born to mothers who have taken thalidomide.

Dr Neil Vargesson, who led the research, said: "We have put to rest a 50-year puzzle, in finally deducing how thalidomide triggers limb defects and why it appears to target limbs preferentially." The paper published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the drug prevents the growth of new blood vessels. 

In the 1950s thalidomide was prescribed to treat morning sickness and was taken during the stage of pregnancy when limbs are developed in the embryo. It is thought to have caused about 10,000 babies to be born with deformities. 

The drug has multiple actions, some of which are of great medical value - such as in the treatment of leprosy. Although the risks are now known, in South America and Africa some children with limb defects are born to mothers who have been treated with thalidomide.

The research reveals that only one component causes birth abnormalities and this could lead to new therapies that retain the benefits without the risk. Thalidomide can stop tumours growing larger and is used to treat some cancers. Further therapeutic indications could be investigated if the risks to the unborn child are eliminated.

12th May 2009


Featured jobs

Subscribe to our email news alerts


Add my company
Weber Shandwick

At Weber Shandwick, engagement has always been the cornerstone of health communications.We make health matter. Health is a basic human...

Latest intelligence

Is the pharma business model ready for precision medicine?
Precision medicine promises to revolutionise patient outcomes and reduce costs for industry but is pharma ready for it? Blue Latitude Health co-founder Head of Strategy Fred Bassett explores the challenges...
The NHS and ABPI at 70: inching closer to the triple win
The NHS and UK pharma’s ABPI both turn 70 this year. After years of transactional relationships, there’s a will to work more closely - but friction on prices and value...
What pharma marketers can learn from behavioural science
Pharma behavioural science and traditional emotional marketing create a powerful mix of techniques that have impact on real lives....