Lenalidomide (REVLIMID®) CC-5013 (Celgene, NJ, USA) is approved, in both the USA and Europe, in combination with dexamethasone for the treatment of multiple myeloma patients who have received at least one prior therapy, and is rapidly being accepted worldwide for this condition. Lenalidomide is also approved in the USA and Canada for use in transfusion-dependent anemia in patients with low- and intermediate-1-risk myelodysplastic syndromes associated with del (5q) abnormality with or without additional abnormalities. Lenalidomide is an IMiD® immunomodulatory compound, incorporating structural modification of the drug thalidomide, which is active against a wide variety of autoimmune Th-2-dependent disorders, including erythema nodosum of leprosy, leishmaniasis, as well as severe ulcerative disorders such as Behcet's syndrome. Unfortunately, long-term use of thalidomide is limited, particularly by neurotoxicity. To date, results suggest that lenalidomide is more active than thalidomide and does not cause the neurotoxicity seen with thalidomide. Lenalidomide has multiple properties, including anti-inflammatory, antiangiogenic and costimulatory effects, as well as being able to inhibit T-regulatory cells, all of which are properties deemed desirable for anticancer activity. This article covers the evidence that lenalidomide may have a major role in the treatment and control of many cancer types other than del (5q) myelodysplastic syndrome and multiple myeloma.
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