Fenben for humans: A veterinary drug has been found to have cancer-fighting properties
An Indian scientist has found that a broad-spectrum antiparasitic drug used in veterinary medicine, fenben (FZ), may be effective against human cancers. It is in the benzimidazole family of drugs and has been shown to be effective against parasitic worms such as Ascaris and hookworms. It is also used to treat certain liver infections in dogs and cats.
The benzimidazole family of drugs are known to disrupt energy metabolism in cancer cells. They interfere with the normal function of mitochondria, which are a vital organelle in cells that produces energy by oxidising glucose. They cause a partial alteration in microtubules that form the network around the nucleus, inhibiting cellular growth and inducing cell death.
Researchers treated human non-small cell lung tumour (NSCLC) cells with fenben and analysed the results using fluorescent microscopy and immunofluorescence techniques. The drug caused a reduction in the number of microtubules within the cell and inhibited glucose uptake and expression of hexokinase, a key glycolytic enzyme.
The researchers then tested the drug in a mouse tumour model. Tumour-bearing mice were randomized to receive three i.p. injections of fenben or a placebo every other day for 12 days. The animals were then irradiated with 10 Gy of x-rays. The irradiated mice that received fenben showed significant reduction in tumor size and weight when compared to control mice. This study suggests that fenben, which is widely available in India and China, could be effective against some forms of human cancers. fenben for humans