Anti-Cancer Effect of Fenbendazole


The anthelmintic drug fenbendazole has been used for the treatment of parasitic diseases such as pinworms, giardia, roundworms, hookworms, Taenia solium, and pulmonary paragonimiasis [1]. This drug exerts polymerization inhibitory effects on tubulin, one of the components of microtubules that form part of the cytoskeleton. Hence, it also acts as a cytotoxic agent against cancer cells.

The 2020 “fenbendazole scandal” in Korea was a national controversy caused by false information that an alternative medicine, fenbendazole (an anthelmintic for dogs), cured terminal lung cancer. This false information was spread through videos by an unlicensed veterinarian, Andrew Jones, who claimed that he cured his cancer by taking oral fenbendazole.

A female patient with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) began to self-administer fenbendazole, which she bought at pharmacies, due to her high CEA levels. She was also receiving pembrolizumab monotherapy. Her tumor markers decreased, but she died from liver injury a few weeks later.

We investigated the anti-cancer effect of fenbendazole on SNU-C5 and SNU-C5/5-FUR colorectal cancer cells, which were treated with a concentration close to the IC50 value for fenbendazole, and the time-dependent effects of this compound on these cells. Cells were further analyzed using proliferation assays, immunoblotting, and cellular uptake analysis.

The results showed that fenbendazole significantly inhibited the proliferation of SNU-C5 and SNU-C5/5-FUR cells in a dose-dependent manner. This compound induced ferroptosis via glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) in these cells, and the effect was accelerated by increasing DAMP-triggered mitochondrial dysfunction. fenbendazole for humans

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