Thalidomide is a drug that was developed in the late 1950s by the German pharmaceutical company Grünenthal. Drugs containing thalidomide are produced under different brands, but in its country of origin it has been marketed as Contergan.
To prepare a good research paper on the topic you should know that Thalidomide is a medicine, which was marketed as a harmless sleeping pills especially appropriate for pregnant women, turned out to provide extremely serious side effects in the form of birth defects. Thalidomide caused scandal for more than 10,000 deformed children in 46 countries.
The damage from the drug, which manifested itself in the form of absence or severe deformation of the extremities (arms and legs incl. hands and feet) and sometimes even damage to the eyes, ears and internal organs, primarily affected the fetuses whose mothers took the preparation of one or a few times during the three or four first months of pregnancy. A single tablet intake during this period was sufficient to cause these birth defects.
The women who ate the tablets for a longer period suffered instead (also) of miscarriages or stillbirths. Thalidomide is considered to be harmful for the fetus throughout pregnancy. Thalidomide damage revealed the need for a greatly improved drug control.
The side effects have been caused by the thalidomide used as a mixture (racemate) of the two mirror versions (stereoisomers) of the same molecule, with an equal amount of both R -form and S – form). Many molecules come in two mirror versions, but living beings generally use only one version. No scientist has so far managed to show exactly why the drug has caused the damage.
The substance thalidomide is again interesting in, now against cancer myeloma and as a part of combine chemotherapy, and as a medicine against leprosy. It is also used against certain AIDS-related diseases. Cases are reported in which thalidomide has been used with good effect to heal chronic wounds in the mouth and digestive tract.
The calming (sedative) effect of thalidomide has been associated to the R-form and the effect on the immune system to the S-form. Several similar compounds are in development.
Thalidomide is a white powder which has low solubility in water. The drug can be administered orally, rectally and as a skin gel. The rectal absorption is slow and variable. Intravenous formulation is possible but is not commercialized.
How much thalidomide is absorbed and its clearance is independent of dose according to some studies. The volume of distribution increases with dose.
For enantiomers is by means of 55% for the R-form and 66% for the S-form. Thalidomide is secreted into the blood plasma in measurable concentrations that vary depending on the plasma concentrations.
Thalidomide has several distinct effects. Initially marketed as a sedative drug, which is one of its properties, today considered as a side effect. Now it is used for its inhibitory effect on unhealthy fast regeneration of tissue, which is to be observed in tumors. It also affects the immune system and is anti-inflammatory.
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