A veterinary drug commonly used to kill parasitic worms in animals may have the potential to be an effective cancer treatment for humans, researchers have found. Despite its broad antiparasitic use, fenbendazole is also a moderate microtubule destabilizer, and it triggers cancer cell death by modulating multiple cellular pathways. This has been discovered in a study published in Scientific Reports.
The research began with human ‘non-small cell lung cancer’ cells being treated with fenbendazole, which caused a partial alteration of the network of microtubules that surrounds the nucleus of the cancer cells. When analyzing the cells with immunofluorescence techniques, researchers found that fenbendazole induced cancer cell death through a variety of mechanisms. These included triggering autophagy, activating p53, and inducing ferroptosis in the cells.
In addition to these mechanisms, fenbendazole increased the expression of glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) in colorectal cancer cells, which is known to activate the cell-destructive programmed cell death pathway called G2/M checkpoint control. This further enhances the apoptosis caused by fenbendazole.
This discovery could help with the development of a new class of cancer drugs that trigger apoptosis. The team’s findings are not the first to suggest that an antiparasitic drug might be able to kill cancer cells, and a TikTok post by the CVBC earlier this year reported the case of Joe Tippens, who claimed that taking fenbendazole cured his rare form of small-cell lung cancer. However, as Health Feedback pointed out at the time, Tippens had a lot of other factors working in his favour, including receiving immuno-cancer treatments as part of a clinical trial. fenbendazole cures cancer