A deworming drug called fenben has sparked widespread interest after a veterinarian claimed it cured his cancer. The unlicensed vet’s videos have gone viral on Facebook and TikTok.
But fenbendazole isn’t approved for treating cancer in humans, and Tippens’ anecdotal experience doesn’t mean the medication works. In fact, researchers say there’s insufficient evidence that fenbendazole can actually cure cancer. In order to prove this, large-scale studies involving many patients would need to be performed.
There is some evidence that fenbendazole does slow down the growth of cancer cells in laboratory settings, and it may also be effective at starving them of the glucose they need to grow and multiply. However, the research is not conclusive, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tells Full Fact that it hasn’t determined whether fenbendazole is safe or effective for curing cancer in people.
Benzimidazole compounds interfere with host carbohydrate metabolism by blocking the uptake of glucose and inhibiting ATP formation, which results in a loss of energy and cell death. In addition to causing apoptosis, they can also trigger autophagy and ferroptosis in cancer cells.
This study analyzed the effects of fenbendazole on a colorectal cancer (CRC) cell line, SNU-C5. Both 2- and 24-h treatments of fenbendazole caused significant decreases in the number of cells that grew in a colony formation assay. Moreover, fenbendazole caused a significant increase in the expression of Beclin-1 and LC3-I in SNU-C5 cells. In addition, a significant decrease in the expression of glycolytic enzymes including GLUT-4 and hexokinase II was observed in fenbendazole-treated cells.
In addition to the apoptosis and autophagy induction, fenbendazole also induced p53-dependent and -independent apoptosis in SNU-C5 cells. It also promoted the degradation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, which led to a caspase-3-dependent apoptosis in SNU-C5/5-FUR cells. Additionally, fenbendazole augmented apoptosis through mitochondrial damage in both 5-FU-sensitive and resistant CRC cells. In a murine model of invasive colorectal cancer, fenbendazole significantly reduced tumor volume and decreased the number of metastases. The authors suggest that fenbendazole may act as a novel therapy for human CRCs by triggering apoptosis, autophagy, and ferroptosis in 5-FU-sensitive and resistant cells. The results from this study highlight that fenbendazole is a potent inhibitor of cancer growth and provides a basis for future studies on its potential anticancer action. This may lead to the development of a new class of benzimidazole compounds as anticancer agents. Moreover, the findings suggest that fenbendazole could be used in combination with existing chemotherapy regimens. This is an important step towards establishing a safer and more effective treatment for human cancers. fenben cancer treatment