Mebendazole Found To Enhance The Effects Of Docetaxel During Chemotherapy In Prostate Cancer
Medical scientists at the University of Glasgow and Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute have tested close to 1000 existing medicines and discovered that a cheap drug commonly used to treat parasitic worm infection could be a game-changing treatment for prostate cancer
. Prostate cancer
is the most common cancer affecting men and the second most common cause of cancer death for men globally.
The cheap drug, called mebendazole
, is on the World Health Organisation's List of Essential Medicines and can be purchased from a pharmacist for less than US$3 per pill.
The research study from the laboratory of Professor Dr Hing Leung was published in the British Journal of Cancer
. It found that mebendazole
worked in combination with the commonly used chemotherapy
to enhance its ability to kill prostate cancer
cells and abolished tumour growth in mouse models of prostate cancer
. The study was funded by Worldwide Cancer
Research, the Prostate Cancer
Foundation and Cancer
The medical researchers found that mebendazole
work together to kill prostate cancer
cells by disrupting the molecular "scaffold" used by cells to divide. This scaffold is vital for cancer
cells to grow and divide and the combination treatment was found to drastically increase cancer
A researcher at the Institute of Cancer Sciences at the University of Glasgow who worked on the study; Dr. Linda Rushworth, told Thailand Medical
News, "Our study shows that by carrying out large screens on currently available medicines, it is possible to identify drugs that can be repurposed for cancer
have been well tested in patients and, since the safety of both drugs has already been determined, the timescale from lab to clinic is significantly reduced."
Typically, drug repurposing
finds new ways to use existing drugs and fast tracks the process of testing new treatments as the drugs tested have already been used in humans with satisfactory safety records. This makes drug repurposing more time and cost effective than developing new drugs.
Dr Leung added, "We are currently developing a clinical study design that will be able to determine the best dose and administration schedule to be used along with docetaxel
. The aim would be to allow the drugs to work together while producing the lowest side effects. Once this has been shown to be effective in treating prostate cancer
, the combination treatment
could be adopted widely in patients with prostate cancer
. We think that this could be available to patients within 3-4 years."
"This research could be a real game-changer for prostate cancer
is the main chemotherapy
used to treat prostate cancer
, but many patients end up developing resistance to the drug and their cancer
comes back. This bold new idea shows how we can use already existing medicines to bolster the effects of chemotherapy
and hopefully improve outcomes for people with prostate cancer
. We are excited to follow the progress of the research team as they take their work forward into clinical trials. Prostate cancer
kills nearly 12,000 people every year in the UK. This research is an encouraging first-step towards kinder, more effective treatments that will ultimately save more lives." commented Dr. Helen Rippon, Chief Executive of Worldwide Cancer
Research, who helped fund the study.
"Combining existing medicines with different cancer
drugs is an exciting area of research, and this study shows some promising results which could lead to improved treatments for prostate cancer
. Out of the hundreds of medicines investigated, few would have suspected that an inexpensive worming treatment could so drastically increase cancer
cell death in the lab. The next step will be to test this new drug combination in people with prostate ca
ncer to see if it's safe and performs better than current treatments.” added Dr. Samuel Godfrey, Senior Research Information Manager at Cancer
Reference: Rushworth, L.K., Hewit, K., Munnings-Tomes, S. et al. Repurposing screen identifies mebendazole as a clinical candidate to synergise with docetaxel for prostate cancer treatment. Br J Cancer (2019) doi:10.1038/s41416-019-0681-5, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-019-0681-5