Fenbendazole, a popular parasitic medicine used in dogs and cats to treat certain types of parasites, may kill cancer cells in animal studies, according to new research. The discovery may lead to the development of a new anticancer drug. The results of a new study were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The work builds on previous research by the same team that showed that fenbendazole can cause cell death through multiple mechanisms. These include disruption of the microtubules that control the movement of chromosomes during cell division, interference with glucose metabolism, and augmentation of the autophagy, ferroptosis, and apoptosis pathways in colorectal cancer cells.
During mitosis, a process in which chromosomes separate into two identical halves, each to be replicated by the other half of the cell, a structure called the mitotic spindle is needed to align and evenly divide chromosomes. It is made of proteins, including microtubules, and is important for cell growth and division. Fenbendazole and similar drugs interfere with the ability of microtubules to function, and they can reduce the number of chromosomes that are duplicated in each cell cycle.
A key feature of cancer cells is their need for energy to survive and proliferate. To meet this demand, they increase the uptake of glucose to fuel their growth. Researchers found that fenbendazole significantly inhibited glucose uptake in both normal and cancer cells.
The investigators also studied how fenbendazole affected the growth of EMT6 tumors in BALB/c mice. They rigorously compared tumor growth by counting the time it took for each tumor to grow from its initial volume to four times that size after treatment with different doses of fenbendazole or the control drug metronidazole. The data showed that fenbendazole, whether given in the diet or via three daily injections of metronidazole (i.p), did not affect the growth of unirradiated or irradiated tumors.
In addition, fenbendazole treatment reduced the clonogenicity of cancer cells and killed more of them than did metronidazole. The authors speculate that these results are due to the fact that fenbendazole interferes with several important cellular processes.
The study suggests that fenbendazole could be used in combination with other therapies, such as radiotherapy and taxanes, to improve their effectiveness. In addition, the results suggest that fenbendazole could help overcome resistance to 5-fluorouracil, an agent currently used to treat colorectal cancer in patients with resistant tumors.
A video promoting the use of the dog dewormer as a cure for human cancer has been reposted on Facebook and TikTok, according to a recent Health Feedback article. The TikTok and Facebook posts were taken from a series of videos posted on a YouTube channel run by a Canadian veterinarian who has been disciplined for promoting alternative medicines to dogs.
Until further clinical trials show that fenbendazole cures cancer in humans, it should not be prescribed for that purpose. The benzimidazole anthelmintic is generally well tolerated in animals, and there are no clinical trials that have shown it to be effective against human cancer. fenbendazole cures cancer