Pinworm drug, Mebendazole, targets cancers like GBM and osteosarcoma

Pinworm drug, Mebendazole, targets cancers like GBM and osteosarcoma
An off-patent drug, Mebendazole, used for treating Pinworm infestations in humans, has been shown in several studies to have effects against cancers such as Glioblastoma (GBM) and osteosarcoma because it targets tubulin and damages microtubules essential to perfect cancer cell division, much as the drug Taxol does.
 
Researcher Gregory Riggins at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in Baltimore observed that an animal version of Mebendazole used to treat mice with pinworms, had quite an important side-effect. It stopped them being given brain tumours. In his experiments, all of the mice had been given brain tumour cells but the mice that had been de-wormed first with the drug didn’t develop any brain tumours! So could Mebendazole be used to treat GBM, glioblastoma, the most deadly form of brain cancer?
 
Mebendazole, or MBZ, also called Vermox, works against many types of parasitic worms (helminths) and their infections because it targets the synthesis of microtubules by inhibiting tubulin polymerisation in their intestinal cells and killing them. It is taken by mouth and was originally created for animals but is also effective and has a long history of safety in humans.
 
Pinworms are an increasing threat to Americans with over 40 million developing an infection every year. Worm infections treated by Mebendazole include ascariasis, pinworms, hookworm, guinea worm and giardia.

But microtubules are crucial to cancer cell formation also. Microtubules are tiny fibres of tubulin protein that are involved in cell movement, cell division and mitosis (the transfer of the genome). Because each new created cell needs to be a copy of the parent, anything that disrupts the perfect copying can stop the whole process. University of California scientists have shown that the disruption of this process is how Taxol (paclitaxel) works, for example. 

Riggins then completed phase I clinical trials which primarily measure safety. And Mebendazole passed in humans – both children and adults. In 2011 he was part of a pre-clinical trial that showed MBZ could increase survival times in glioma cell lines by as much as 67% (2). 

All this is not actually new news. Back in 2002, Mebendazole showed an effect against lung cancer cells, causing dose-dependent apoptosis (cancer cell death). In that research, mice were given non-small cell lung cancer, and Mebendazole stopped the growth of the disease, with 80 per cent less metastases.

Work followed with adrenocortical cancer and melanoma, showing a similar pattern of results, as a thorough overview has shown(1).

By 2011, similar results were shown with osteosarcomas. Two clinical trials are currently underway with brain tumours.

Go To: Repurposing old drugs to treat cancer

References
 
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3158014/

 

 

 

 

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