Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms of the disease and a notoriously difficult one to treat. It is resistant to almost all types of conventional chemotherapy and newer immunotherapies, largely because the tumors develop resistance by activating a pathway that allows them to escape drug action. A study published in Oncotarget on July 6 found that an anti-parasitic drug — originally used to fight roundworm, hookworm and whipworm — may prevent the progression of pancreatic cancer by interfering with a crucial cellular pathway.
Cells establish structure and shape through a protein scaffolding called the cytoskeleton. Textbook depictions of cells commonly portray them as floating in amorphous bags of liquid, but they actually acquire their shape and mobility through the cytoskeleton’s microtubules, which are mainly made of tubulin. Tubulin is also involved in transporting organelles and cargo inside the cell, making it vital to cancer’s survival and growth.
Fenbendazole — also known by the brand names Pancur and Safe-Guard — works by interrupting the production of these proteins and thereby inhibiting cellular activity. While it is unclear exactly why fenbendazole prevents the spread of pancreatic cancer, researchers have found that it interferes with the production of certain molecules involved in DNA repair, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinases/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/Akt/mTOR), cholecystokinin receptors, WNT/b-catenin and special AT-rich sequence-binding protein 2.
This research adds to the growing body of evidence that fenbendazole has anticancer properties and could potentially be used in combination therapy with other therapies to treat pancreatic cancer. However, the nonprofit organization Cancer Research UK told Full Fact that it is too soon to suggest that fenbendazole can cure pancreatic cancer, and the drug has not yet been tested in people with pancreatic cancer. fenbendazole for pancreatic cancer