As you know a good number of drugs are chemical substances used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being. What most people don’t know is that some of them have side effect that could sometimes be deadly. Thalidomide is one of these drugs which caused “The biggest tragedy in medical history” in the modern time. Thalidomide was used as sedative prescribed to pregnant women to alleviate the symptoms associated with morning sickness. It was sold in a number of countries across the world from 1957 to 1961 until it was abjured birth defects.
Even thought the estimates aren’t precise it is said that there was about 10,000 – 20,000 thalidomide victims. Thalidomide was developed by a German pharmaceutical company. A trusted reporter by the name Martin W. Johnson mentioned evidence that suggested the drug had been developed as a cure to nerve gases. It also was a drug that was effective against vomiting and nausea, which prevented effect against morning sickness. Thus, thousands of pregnant women heard about it and started to take the drug to relive their symptoms. When a person takes thalidomide, the drug travels throughout the bloodstream, reaching all areas of the body.
No one knows exactly how it works. But scientists have observed both its effects and side effects, and from these they have proposed at least three possible mechanisms of action for the drug. 1) In the 1950s when doctors prescribed thalidomide as a sleeping pill for pregnant women, they noticed that it induced a more healthy sleep than did most other sleeping pills. Thalidomide’s mechanism of action was different – it turned on the part of the brain that tells the body to sleep, rather than shutting down the part of the brain that tells the body to stay awake. One of its targets in the body is, therefore, the brain. ) A second target is blood vessels. Thalidomide seemed to block the normal development of fetal limbs by preventing angiogenesis, new blood vessel growth. Without blood and the nutrients and growth factors it carries, fetal development was stunted. Thalidomide’s capacity to obstruct angiogenesis prompted doctors to test the drug as a treatment for cancer patients, because like a fetal limb, a tumor needs new blood vessels to grow. Drugs that inhibit the formation of blood vessels stymy tumor growth as well. And lastly 3) doctors realized in the 1960s that thalidomide reduces inflammation.
When the body fights foreign material, injured cells release proteins that increase blood flow. TNF-alpha is one of the proteins that is released. Scientists think that thalidomide may block production of TNF-alpha. In the late 1950’s -1960’s more than 10,000 children in 46 countries were born with birth defects, as consequence of thalidomide use. In the United Kingdom approximately 2000 babies were born as victims of thalidomide and in Germany about 2500 victims were born. In the United States the impact was less severe because of the pharmacologists who refused to market thalidomide, claming the need to study more about the drug before use.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 27 May 2018
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