Researchers gave the drug fenbendazole (trade name Panacur) to mice with genetically engineered pancreatic cancer. The drug starved cancerous cells of oxygen and caused them to collapse from within.
The UNC team’s results show that “drug repositioning” can identify new ways to shrink tumors. It’s the first time that this approach has been used to treat pancreatic cancer.
Prevents Parasitic Infections
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult-to-treat tumor types, with standard chemotherapy barely slowing its growth and newer immune-targeting therapies ineffective against it. Fortunately, an anti-parasitic drug has been shown to prevent its initiation, progression and metastasis in genetically engineered mice.
Specifically, the drug mebendazole binds to the microtubule polymerization protein and disrupts its function. This deprives cancer cells of their ability to grow, causing them to collapse from within.
Moreover, the researchers found that mebendazole suppresses a protein that triggers oxygen starvation in cancerous cells and forces them to use sugar for energy instead, thus triggering apoptosis. Combined with the other properties of fenbendazole, this mechanism is effective in killing pancreatic cancerous cells.
Researchers found that fenbendazole, a drug commonly used to eradicate parasitic infections such as pinworms, giardiasis and roundworms, prevents pancreatic cancer initiation, progression and metastasis in genetically engineered mice. The drug binds to the microtubule polymerization protein and disrupts its function, causing cancer cells to collapse from within.
Furthermore, fenbendazole stabilizes the WT p53 gene in pancreatic cancer cells, provides moderate microtubule disruption and blocks glucose uptake in cancer cells. This enables the drug to selectively kill cancer cells while sparing normal cells.
The findings lend support to a new national clinical trial to test a combination of chemotherapy with the drug as part of the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network. The combination has more than doubled survival in mice with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, an aggressive and deadly tumor that resists conventional therapy. The trial is expected to begin this summer. The Washington University team will be at the forefront of testing this triple combo therapy in humans.
Kills Cancer Cells
Fenbendazole is a popular antihelminthic drug that has also been used as a cancer treatment. It kills parasites by interfering with microtubules, which are part of a protein scaffold that gives cells their shape and structure. Cells establish ploidy and divide evenly during mitosis by aligning the chromosomes with a structure called the mitotic spindle, which is also made up of microtubules. Drugs that interfere with microtubule activity block these processes, stopping the cell from growing and multiplying.
Several scientific studies show that fenbendazole can kill cancer cells in lab experiments. These studies use varying doses of fenbendazole and different combinations with other treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy.
While Joe Tippens claims he went into complete remission from his pancreatic cancer after taking fenbendazole and targeted supplements, it’s impossible to reliably attribute his remission to these drugs. There could be other factors at play, such as the conventional cancer treatments he received that aren’t being accounted for.
The pancreas is a flat organ deep inside the abdomen that produces enzymes to digest food and control blood sugar. It also makes bile, which helps to move fats through the digestive system. Cancer that affects the pancreas is known to be resistant to many forms of treatment.
In the new study, Riggins’ team tested how mebendazole — also known as fenbendazole — might affect pancreatic cancer in mice. They found that the drug makes the tumor cells more sensitive to chemotherapy and a type of immunotherapy that boosts the body’s natural immune response.
The research showed that mebendazole dramatically reduced the number of cancer cells and their clonogenicity (the ability to grow into colonies) in EMT6 cell cultures after 24-h treatments with high doses of the drug. These effects were comparable to those of the chemotherapeutic agent gemcitabine, which is already approved for use in pancreatic cancer patients. Mebendazole acts by blocking the formation of tubulin, a protein that both forms the cell’s microskeleton and is a highway for transporting nutrients.fenbendazole for pancreatic cancer