The discovery of the new anticancer drug fenbendazole has sparked interest in how to use existing drugs to fight cancer. Now, Stanford scientists have used fenbendazole to shrink tumors in mice and prevent their spread. Their study is published Jan. 22 in Science Translational Medicine. The researchers, including chemist David Glenn and his team in the Department of Chemistry, worked with colleagues from other Stanford departments to develop the compound. Their research was supported by the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research, the National Institutes of Health and Stanford ChEM-H’s Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Center.
The researchers’ strategy involved using fenbendazole to disrupt otherwise normal cellular processes that both viruses and some cancer cells depend on to grow and spread. They found that fenbendazole interferes with the synthesis of tubulin, which is both a structural building block of a cell and a highway for transporting materials. The drug thus starves the cancer cells of the nutrients they need to grow and survive.
Fenbendazole (methyl N-(6-phenylsulfanyl-1H-benzimidazol-2-yl) carbamate) is a benzimidazole anthelmintic agent with a broad antiparasitic spectrum of use in various animals, and has also been reported to exert antitumor effects by binding to b-tubulin microtubule subunits and disrupting their polymerization. However, a clinical trial examining safety, tolerability and optimal doses in humans has yet to be conducted.
To understand cancer patients’ acquisition patterns and perception of fenbendazole, we conducted qualitative interviews with lung cancer patients who had self-administered it. The interviews were based on a semi-structured questionnaire, and they lasted for about 1.5 hours.
In the majority of cases, patients first obtained information about fenbendazole through TV. The second most frequent channel was acquaintances or family members. YouTube was the third most common source of information, and a few patients actively searched for it (B, J, L, N, U).
A 80-year-old female patient with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer who had been treated with pembrolizumab monotherapy developed severe liver injury 9 months later. It was found that she had been self-administering oral fenbendazole for a month, solely based on information from social media sites suggesting its effectiveness against cancer. After discontinuation of the fenbendazole, her liver function returned to normal.
In a series of experiments in mice, the scientists showed that fenbendazole inhibited cancer tumor growth by blocking the production of tubulin. They also found that the compound was more effective in inhibiting cancer growth when it was delivered through a liposome – a small lipid particle that delivers drugs into the body’s cells. This suggests that a combination of drugs containing fenbendazole could be more effective than either alone. fenbendazole cancer treatment