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Thalidomide heals AIDS mouth sores UPI Science News

BOSTON, May 21 -- Thalidomide, regardless of its power to cause birth defects, may be the answer for AIDS patients whose painful mouth ulcers have no other treatment. A clinical trial described today (Wednesday) in The New England Journal of Medicine found a month of thalidomide treatment healed the ulcers in more than half of 29 AIDS patients.

The team of researchers involved in the study calls the other treatments for these ulcers 'unsatisfactory.' The scientists admit that even one dose of thalidomide can be dangerous to a fetus during its window of vulnerability, 21 to 35 days after conception. However, the researchers suggest that with enough safegaurds, the treatments could be used for women of childbearing age. The doctors urge that these women get extensive counseling about the risks and have pregnancy tests every two weeks. Other than the risk of birth defects, the month-long course of thalidomide seemed to have minimal drawbacks. The most common side effects the AIDS patients reported were rashes and drowsiness. Dr. Jeffrey Jacobson, from Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, was the first author on the research report. Dr. Jack Killen, from the National Institutes of Health division that funded the study, says, 'Thalidomide is the first treatment shown in a scientific study to heal these ulcers.' He points out that any patient taking the drug will need careful monitoring because of the potential toxicity. ---NEWLN:Copyright 1997 by United Press International.NEWLN:All rights reserved.NEWLN:---

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