Update on therapy - Thalidomide in the treatment of lupus
High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Dominant
Thalidomide has been shown to be an effective treatment for cutaneous forms of lupus erythematous refractory to other therapies. Thalidomide has very serious side effects, including teratogenicity and neuropathy, which limit its clinical use in lupus to such severe refractory cases. Efficacy has been confirmed in several studies, although recurrence after discontinuation of treatment is frequent. More recent experience suggests that lower doses than originally used may be effective, which may result in a reduction in side effects. Much effort has been expended in studying the mechanisms of action of thalidomide, although as yet it is unclear which of the mechanisms identified to date contribute to its efficacy in treating cutaneous forms of lupus erythematosus. Identification of patients suitable for thalidomide therapy requires a rigorous selection process. Potential side effects should be clearly explained, particularly teratogenicity as many patients are young women. Written consent and a negative pregnancy test must be obtained prior to commencement of therapy. Reliable contraceptive measures should be strictly observed by patients taking thalidomide. Close clinical and neurophysiological supervision using nerve conduction studies should be undertaken.