Chandigarh September 18, 2020-The joint research by Prof. Tapas Mukhopadhyay, Professor& Director (Retd.),National Centre for Human Genome Studies & Research, Panjab University and his team including Dr. Nilambra Dogra CSIR-Senior Research Associate, Centre for Systems Biology & Bioinformatics, Panjab University and Dr. Ashok Kumar Chairperson, Centre for Systems Biology & Bioinformatics, Panjab University for finding an effective and safe anti-cancer option from the repertoire of available tested drugs was published in the journal Scientific Reports and featured at #11 amongst the top 100 oncology papers. The paper has attracted widespread attention and is in the top 5% of ~15,873,280 research outputs tracked across all sources so far by Altmetric (a measure of attention a scientific paper has received).

The process of developing new cancer treatments from scratch and bringing them to the market is a time consuming and expensive process. An alternative time saving, inexpensive and safe approach is to explore already available approved drugs for ailments other than cancer which may display significant anticancer properties. This approach with the potential to provide economically beneficial, safer and effective options in a short period of time has been termed as ‘drug repurposing’ and through this strategy the team has identified Fenbendazole (FZ) - a veterinary deworming drug - as a safe, inexpensive and effective anti-cancer agent. Thanks to decades of motivated research, more people than ever before are surviving cancer. However, the task is still far from accomplished. The disease continues to claim many lives, and by and large ‘cancer’ still remains a dreaded word.Gaps remain to be traversed and challenges to be overcome before we can lay a final claim on victory over cancer. A vast majority of cancer therapies suffer from the two most common issues encountered in cancer treatment – toxicity and drug resistance. Finding a way to overcome these hurdles remains a challenge for cancer researchers.

Laboratory grown cancer cells originating from various tissues (lung, prostate, colon, breast etc.) could be killed by exposing them to different doses of fenbendazole. Importantly, their results showed that FZ was non-toxic to normal cells at doses at which it killed cancer cells. To evaluate the efficacy of the drug better, the results were confirmed in a mouse model bearing tumor of human origin. Mice fed with FZ showed a considerable decrease in tumor size. Through their experiments, the researchers demonstrated that FZ acted by targeting multiple cellular pathways including microtubules, enhancing p53 levels, hampering glucose uptake and glycolysis as well as inhibiting the proteasomal pathway of protein degradation.

Cancer progression involves a number of factors affecting multiple components of the cell.Thus, drugs against single targets often show limited efficacy, and furthermore, they may eventually lead to drug resistance, since cancer cells are clever and resourceful enough to rely on other pathways for growth and survival when one pathway is blocked. Drugs targeting several cellular components simultaneously are expected to be more effective besides being able to evade the likelihood of developing resistance. This work proposes FZ as a multitargeting effective inexpensive repurposed drug for cancer treatment.

Since the publication of this research, the authors have been contacted by people who shared how they had benefitted from this work on FZ. Even though this drug has not been through clinical trials for cancer and cannot yet be prescribed for cancer treatment, some terminally ill patients have self-administered FZ in the absence of other alternatives and shared their success stories with the authors. An American patient with lung cancer metastasized throughout his body who had dismal chances of survival started taking FZ on advice of his veterinarian friend. His oncologist was amazed to find that his subsequent scans came all clear. He’s still alive, healthy and cancer-free more than three years after he was told he’d soon die. He has written a blog about his experience with FZ to spread the word ( and has also shared many other success stories of patients suffering from triple negative breast cancer, prostate, colorectal, pancreatic and other types of cancer.

Through their work, the researchers hope that even though FZ is an off-patent drug, it will be taken to clinical trials so that it can be approved for use in cancer and doesn’t remain yet another promising drug which could have saved lives but never reached patients.