Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of the disease. Standard chemotherapy drugs can barely slow its growth, and newer immunotherapy drugs have shown little ability to improve survival rates. But researchers have now shown that fenbendazole, an anti-parasitic drug, may be able to help.
The drug, which is available in a pill form called Panacur C (222 mg taken once per day, seven days a week), works by blocking a key component of the cell skeleton that provides a highway for transport. This destabilizes the microtubules and causes cancer cells to starve themselves from within.
Scientists have been trying to find ways to block this pathway in cancer cells in hopes that it will help other therapies to work better. In a recent study, they tested four FDA-approved benzimidazole-based anthelmintic drugs — fenbendazole, mebendazole, oxibendazole and parbendazole — against two different genetically engineered pancreatic cancer cells and found that mebendazole was the most effective at decreasing the viability of these cells.
Next, the researchers will investigate how this drug acts in more detail. They will give mebendazole to mice that have been engineered to develop pancreatic cancer and track inflammation levels, tissue changes and the stage, grade and metastatic status of any tumors that appear. They will also look for evidence that the drug prevents PDAC from forming and spreading in these mice, which would be a major step toward testing its efficacy in humans. If the results are positive, the team hopes to begin human trials of fenbendazole in PDAC patients as soon as possible. fenbendazole for pancreatic cancer