Homework Help

Explain in detail the link between "Isomerism" and the "Thalidomide case"??

user profile pic

sarahh10 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted May 1, 2011 at 8:44 AM via web

dislike 3 like
Explain in detail the link between "Isomerism" and the "Thalidomide case"?

?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 10, 2011 at 7:54 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

One possible link between isomerism and the Thalidome case is that the chemical components (isomers) of Thalidome make it possible to refrain the metabolic growth of certain bacteria, while damaging the metabolic processes taking place in human cells. This is what may be the cause of Thalidome causing birth defects in embryos, while preventing the growth of deforming cells in lepers. There must be a chemical interaction between the isomers in Thalidome and the hormones produced by chemical reactions in the human body for it to cause such a disparate reaction.

user profile pic

ncchemist | eNotes Employee

Posted May 19, 2011 at 4:00 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

The drug Thalidomide as released in the 1950's is a racemic compound, meaning that it is an equal mixture of 2 different isomers.  In this case the two different isomers are called enantiomers, meaning that they have the same chemical bond connectivity but they only differ in spacial arrangement.  Enantiomers are mirror images of each other but are not superimposable.  In the case of Thalidomide, one of the enantiomeric isomers was safe and effective against nausea and morning sickness but the other isomer is a teratogen, or a chemical that causes birth defects in pregnant women.  Many drugs released today are now not mixtures of isomers but instead are composed of a single active isomer.

user profile pic

litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 23, 2012 at 2:13 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

This is just another example of unintended side effects.  When a drug enters the body, it can sometimes have negative side effects that did appear until it actually interacts with the body.  Thalidome is far more unstable because of isomerism.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes