Scientists are researching the possibility of using a dog worming drug to treat human cancer. They say fenbendazole might slow cancer cell growth by stopping the proper growth of microtubules in cancer cells. Microtubules are structures that provide structure for a cell and help to separate chromosomes during cell division. This process is regulated by a protein called mitotic spindle, which uses microtubules to form and then pull apart sister chromatids. The process must be precisely coordinated for a cell to divide and grow normally. Drugs that interfere with microtubules can disrupt the normal process and kill the cell.
The researchers tested fenbendazole on colorectal cancer cells and found that the drug caused apoptosis. They also found that the drug inhibited the growth of tumors in mice. The scientists reported their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.
Fenbendazole (methyl N-(6-phenylsulfanyl-1H-benzimidazol-2-yl) carbamate), a broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent used in humans and many animals, binds to b-tubulin, a microtubule subunit, and blocks the formation of microtubules in human and other cancer cells. This is a mechanism that has been known for some time in anthelmintic agents. The study authors suggest that this mechanism might explain the ability of fenbendazole to reduce the size of cancers and other tumors in humans.
The scientists studied fenbendazole in human non-small lung cancer cells, and found that the drug induced apoptosis through the p53 pathway. In addition, they also found that fenbendazole caused apoptosis through other mechanisms, such as autophagy and ferroptosis. They also found that fenbendazole reduced the sensitivity of the cancer cells to 5-FU, which is used in chemotherapy.
To test the effect of fenbendazole in mice, the researchers injected three daily doses of fenbendazole or a placebo into the skin of each mouse. They then compared the growth of the tumors in the mice treated with fenbendazole to the tumors in control mice that did not receive the drug. The fenbendazole-treated mice had significantly smaller tumors than the untreated mice. The scientists also irradiated some of the fenbendazole-treated tumors with 10 Gy of X-rays and found that the irradiated tumors did not grow as fast as the untreated tumors.
The scientists conclude that their results show that fenbendazole might be an effective and safe treatment for cancers in humans. They suggest that this is mainly because of its ability to induce multiple forms of cell death, including apoptosis and autophagy. They also note that their research is preliminary, and that further clinical trials would be needed before fenbendazole could be considered as a new cancer treatment in humans. The nonprofit organization Cancer Research UK tells Full Fact that there is insufficient evidence from randomized clinical trials to prove that fenbendazole can cure cancer. fenbendazole for humans cancer