Thalidomide and lenalidomide in multiple myeloma

Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2006;19(4):769-80. doi: 10.1016/j.beha.2006.06.006.


Multiple myeloma is a treatable but not necessarily a curable plasma-cell cancer. After decades of minimal progress, two new classes of drugs with novel mechanisms of action - immunomodulatory drugs (thalidomide and lenalidomide) and proteasome inhibitors (bortezomib) - have been introduced for the treatment of this disease. Thalidomide and lenalidomide have shown great activity as single agents and in combination with glucocorticoids for the treatment of chemotherapy-refractory myeloma. Thalidomide - and more recently lenalidomide - in combination with dexamethasone have shown promising results as induction therapy. These drugs can easily be combined with other chemotherapeutic agents to potentiate the anti-myeloma effect. The immunomodulatory function of these drugs can be successfully exploited to control residual disease during remission. Thus, both thalidomide and lenalidomide have ushered in a new era of optimism in the management of this incurable cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Lenalidomide
  • Multiple Myeloma / diagnosis
  • Multiple Myeloma / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Myeloma / immunology*
  • Remission Induction
  • Thalidomide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Thalidomide / therapeutic use*


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Thalidomide
  • Lenalidomide