Minerva

Minerva

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6969.1670 (Published 17 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1670

Thalidomide—notorious as the first major teratogenic drug—is used in the treatment of leprosy, and it may have other clinical indications. A study in Nottingham (Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 1994;53;828-32) examined its use in 59 patients with Behcet's disease and other conditions causing oral and genital ulceration. Within one month 48 of the patients were free of ulcers, and this improvement was maintained. The authors warn, however, that doctors prescribing the drug must remain vigilant for signs of axonal neuropathy as well as ensuring that women patients do not become pregnant.

Geneticists have been telling us for some time that 97% of the DNA in human cells looks like a meaningless filler—junk DNA. A report in “Science” (1994;266:1320) now suggests that these long sequences of apparently meaningless DNA may have a function. Analysis has shown that the sequences have the characteristics of a language. Some sequences are found in animals such as mice as well as in humans. The hunt is now on for the dictionary that will allow the language—if there is one—to be read.

Paediatricians in Canada thought that …

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