Thymosins and anti-thymosins: Properties and clinical applications

  • Allan L. Goldstein
  • Richard S. Schulof
  • Paul H. Naylor
  • Nicholas R. Hall
Growth Factors and Hormones


For years, scientists have searched for ways to trigger the body's own defenses against cancer and other diseases associated with abnormal immunity. This search has led to the discovery of a number of important new biological and chemical substances that augment, direct or restore many of the normal defenses of the body. These substances are in essence the natural drugs of the body that endow us with immunity and resistance to disease.

Now called biological response modifiers (BRMs), most of these 'lsnew medicines’, such as thymosins, lymphokines, and interferons, occur naturally in the body, while others, synthetic immunomodulators and thymomimetic agents (drugs that mimic thymic function) have been created in the laboratory. Previously, therapeutic drug development in this area relied upon chemical synthesis or introduction of bacterial adjuvants, or modified viral compounds and substances, which were foreign to the body. Therefore, they did not and do not rely upon or use the body's natural immune and biological response systems for protection against disease, function and response to the environment.

Although scientists have known about BRMs for years, isolating and purifying them so that they could be used to treat diseases has been extremely difficult. Many of these substances, such as the lymphokines, occur in the body in minute amounts and normally do not circulate in the blood. The development of new technologies for isolation and large scale synthesis, e.g. solid phase peptide synthesis, high-pressure liquid chromatography microsequencing and genetic engineering, has now permitted scientists to isolate, purify, and synthesize BRMs in sufficiently large quantities to allow human clinical trials. In this paper we will focus on the potential clinical applications of the thymosins and anti-thymosins.

Key words

Thymus Thymosins Neuroendocrine Cancer Aging AIDS 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan L. Goldstein
    • 1
  • Richard S. Schulof
    • 2
  • Paul H. Naylor
    • 1
  • Nicholas R. Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryThe George Washington University School of MedicineWashington, D.C.U.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of MedicineThe George Washington University School of MedicineWashington, D.C.U.S.A.

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