A cancer patient named Tippens made headlines when he claimed that fenben (a common anthelmintic drug) had cured his tumor. But while his anecdotal story is intriguing, it’s important to remember that there’s no evidence that fenben actually cures cancer. To arrive at any such conclusion, researchers need to perform randomized controlled trials involving hundreds of patients.
The anthelmintic drug fenbendazole interferes with the microtubules that keep chromosomes lined up in prophase and then evenly separated during anaphase. This process is essential for cell division. However, it also allows cancer cells to divide more quickly than normal cells and can lead to their acquiring mutations that make them resistant to chemotherapy drugs.
Fenbendazole can slow cancer cell growth in laboratory cultures and animals, but it hasn’t been shown to kill tumors in humans. Furthermore, because it has side effects that include hair loss and gastrointestinal upset, most doctors don’t prescribe it.
In human colorectal cancer cells, fenbendazole induces time-dependent anti-proliferative effects. Cyclin B1 levels went down after 40 and 48 h of treatment, accompanied by an increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells. The phosphor/total form of p53 was increased in both SNU-C5 and SNU-C5/5-FUR cells. At the same time, mTOR activity was reduced and autophagy and ferroptosis were upregulated.
When fenbendazole was given orally to athymic nude mice xenografted with A549 tumors, the drug significantly decreased tumor size and weight. It also inhibited glucose uptake in tumor cells by down regulation of GLUT transporters and key glycolytic enzymes. Moreover, the drug reduced tumor vascularity by measuring hemoglobin content in tumors. fenben cancer treatment