Efficacy of Parbendazole and Fenbendazole for Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer, which claimed the life of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek last November, occurs when cells in the pancreas undergo a change that can cause them to grow and behave differently. This process can give rise to a malignant tumour, which can spread to other parts of the body and eventually kill the patient. Currently, patients with pancreatic cancer have an extremely poor prognosis. Only eight percent of those diagnosed will survive their disease for five years or more and there are few effective treatment options.

The team analyzed the effects of four FDA-approved benzimidazole-based anthelmintics—fenbendazole, mebendazole, oxibendazole and parbendazole—on AsPC-1 and Capan-2 pancreatic cancer cells. While the drugs had similar lipophilicity and pharmacokinetic properties, parbendazole was the most potent drug in decreasing cell viability in both AsPC-1 and Capan-2 cells. It also markedly inhibited growth, abolished clonogenic activity, altered microtubule organization and drastically perturbed migration in PC cells. Parbendazole also synergistically affected the viability of PC cells in combination with gemcitabine, a first-line treatment for pancreatic cancer.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Specialized Programs of Research Excellence and other grants from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Abramson Family Cancer Center, and Penn Medicine. The research is part of a global initiative to understand how mutations in the RAS gene family drive pancreatic cancer, with an ultimate goal of developing new treatments for this lethal disease. The RAS Initiative is led by the Cancer Research Institute and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, part of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. fenbendazole for pancreatic cancer