Scientists have found that fenben, a deworming medication used in dogs, might be effective at killing cancer cells. It works by stopping the proper growth of microtubules – which give structure to all cells, including cancer cells. It also stops cancer cells processing sugar, which they need to survive. Lastly, it boosts the production of a gene called p53, which kills cancer cells.
The research was published in Scientific Reports. It was conducted by scientists from Panjab University, India. The team gave a human lung adenocarcinoma cell line (A549) and normal breast epithelial cells MCF-10A fenbendazole. They then measured the levels of p53, cytotoxicity, cell cycle and oxidative stress in both cells.
They observed that fenbendazole inhibited p53 expression in A549 cancer cells and caused cell cycle arrest, which is a common feature of anti-cancer drugs. Additionally, it inhibited glucose uptake by blocking the expression of GLUT-4 transporters as well as by hexokinase II, a glycolytic enzyme that most cancers thrive on. It also reduced tumor vascularity by lowering hemoglobin content in the tumor.
The research also found that fenbendazole reduced the levels of proline oxidase, acetyl-CoA carboxylase and cytochrome c oxidase, which are involved in oxidative stress in the cells. In addition, they did a biodistribution study where rats were euthanized and their livers, spleens, kidneys, hearts, lungs and muscles were collected. They then compared the distribution of fenbendazole in the different organs between the solution and micelle forms of the drug. fenben for cancer