Veterinary drug may be repurposed for human cancers: study

Yogesh Sharma Hyderabad | Updated on August 27, 2018 Published on August 27, 2018

Indian scientists have found that fenbendazole, a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic drug used in veterinary sector, could be useful against cancers as well.

Researchers at the National Centre for Human Genome Studies and Research (NCHGSR), Panjab university, have reported that fenbendazole has a good potential for development as an effective anti-cancer agent. It is currently used as used to treat infections caused by parasitic worms in animals like horses. The study results have been published in journal Scientific Reports.

To check the effectiveness of fenbendazole, researchers first treated human ‘non-small cell lung cancer cells’ (type of lung cancer cells) with fenbendazolem and analysed cancer cells with immunofluorescence technique. They found that the drug causes partial alteration of microtubule network around the cell nucleus. Tumour cell lines also showed enhanced cell death-inducing activity in the presence of wild type (WT) p53 tumour suppressor genes.

Researchers tested fenbendazole in mice, feeding them the drug orally every second day for 12 days. After the end of 12 th day, tumours were excised, measured and weighed.

Researchers found reduction in tumour size and weight. Results suggested that fenbendazole inhibits tumour cell growth in vivo by inducing apoptosis of tumour cells.


Cancer cells are known to show increased glucose uptake for their energy requirements. So, researchers tested the effect of fenbendazole on glucose uptake in human cancer cells. Two different type of cancer cells, H460 and A549 cells, were treated with fenbendazole.

Researchers found inhibition in glucose uptake in both the cell lines According to researchers, fenbendazole may also be advantageous in evading drug resistance commonly encountered in cancer therapy. Since the process of tumorigenesis Reduced tumour size in mice fed with fenbendazole for 12 days involves a number of genes and proteins altering various cell signaling pathways, single-target drugs often show limited efficacy and may lead to drug resistance. Drugs having multiple cellular targets, therefore, are expected to have improved efficacy besides the ability to circumvent the likelihood of developing resistance.

“Our findings show that fenbendazole acts through moderate microtubule disruption, p53 stabilization and interference with glucose metabolism leading to preferential elimination of cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo”, explained Dr. Tapas Mukhopadhyay, former director, NCHGSR, who led the study, while speaking to India Science Wire.

The use of microtubule targeting agents (MTAs) for treatment of multiple tumour types is very common but their effectiveness is often hampared due to drug resistance.

“Usually, development of new drugs requires a considerable amount of time, money and effort. Developing a promising molecule into an approved drug often takes several years. It is therefore, crucial to employ strategies to overcome these impediments. Repurposing of veterinary drugs showing promising results for human use can result in considerable time and cost reduction required to develop new drugs,” said Dr. Mukhopadhyay.

According to the researchers fenbendazole is known for a high safety margin and most species tolerate it very well. It has very low degree of toxicity and high degree of safety in experimental animals. Hence it can be a good candidate for anticancer therapy.

Alternatively, it can also be used as an adjuvant therapy.

“FDA as well as other published pre-clinical data on the toxicological studies performed on animals shows that fenbendazole administered in different species at dosages several times the approved dosage does not cause any adverse effects in animals. Further, our previous study also showed minimal toxicity of fenbendazole in normal human cells. Considering this information, FZ can be an ideal candidate for development as an anti-cancer agent”, added Dr. Mukhopadhyay.

Besides Dr Mukhopadhyay and Dr. Ashok Kumar from Panjab University, the research team included Dr. Nilambra Dogra from Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.

(India Science Wire)

Twitter handle: @Yogesh21sharma9


Published on August 27, 2018

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.