Anthelmintics are medications used to treat parasites and worms in animals. A popular anthelmintic, fenbendazole, is being touted on social media as a cancer treatment.
The benzimidazole fenbendazole has both cytotoxic and radiosensitizing effects on 5-fluorouracil-resistant colorectal cancer cells. It significantly reduced cell viability, accompanied by ferroptosis-augmented apoptosis and G2/M arrest.
Can fenben be used to treat cancer?
Fenbendazole is part of a broad class of drugs called the benzimidazole carbamate family, which have been used as dewormers and antiparasitic agents for decades. It isn’t currently approved for treating cancer in humans, and it hasn’t been shown to be effective against the disease in randomized clinical trials.
However, fenbendazole has been shown to slow down cancer cell growth in laboratory tests. It has also been found to trigger multiple cellular pathways that can lead to the effective elimination of tumor cells.
For example, fenbendazole has also been shown to inhibit cell-cycle progression by interfering with the formation of microtubules, a protein scaffold that gives cells their shape and structure. In this way, the drug can cause mitotic catastrophe in cells, a process that blocks cell division by preventing cyclin B1 from binding to cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1). In addition, fenbendazole has shown to inhibit the glycolytic activity of cancer cells by blocking the expression of the glucose transporter GLUT 2 and the enzyme hexokinase II.