The anthelmintic drugs (fenbendazole, albendazole) used to treat parasites in animals have recently been touted by an unlicensed veterinarian on TikTok and Facebook as a cure for cancer. Sheila Singh, director of McMaster’s Centre for Discovery in Cancer Research, says that animal anthelmintics have similar characteristics to cancer cells and the medications could be effective as cancer treatments but the usual path from basic science in vitro (petrie dish studies etc) through reduced preparation experiments in whole experimental animals then into clinical trails in humans to approved drugs is not happening in this case.
Singh’s research group is exploring whether the anthelmintics might be effective against human cancers and has found evidence that they may have anticancer effects in lab experiments. The research team has also determined that fenbendazole might be an effective radiosensitizer, which can make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation by blocking certain cellular functions.
In a separate study, Singh’s lab found that the anthelmintic drug mebendazole has significant anti-proliferative activity in tumor cell lines in vitro. This effect is mediated by its inhibition of glucose uptake and resultant alterations in the glycolysis pathway. The lab’s next step is to test mebendazole’s effect on irradiated cancer cells in vivo.
Singh’s team has conducted a series of focus groups with cancer patients and interviewed those who have heard about the fenben-cancer connection through various media channels. TV was the most common source of false information and acquaintances or family members were the second most common source. YouTube was a channel where participants actively searched for additional information. However, the quality of the information acquired through these sources was fragmented and incomplete. fenben for cancer