Can a Dog Dewormer Cure Cancer?

When Joe Tippens was told his late-stage lung cancer had no cure and he only had three months to live, he was desperate to find a way. He combed the Internet for alternative approaches to treating his disease. He tried the spice curcumin, CBD oil and mega doses of vitamin E. And, based on an anecdote from a friend who’s a veterinarian, Tippens began taking something else: dog dewormer.

That’s right, fenbendazole, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to rid animals of parasites like pinworms. Despite the fact that the drug has never been tested in humans, Tippens decided to act as his own guinea pig and started taking it on a daily basis. He says it’s what saved his life.

While the anecdotal accounts of some people claiming that dog vermicide cures cancer are gaining traction on social media (see examples of Facebook posts here and here and TikTok videos here), there’s insufficient evidence for this claim, according to the Cancer Research Institute UK. However, preclinical studies are examining fenbendazole’s potential to suppress cancer cells by inhibiting the growth of microtubules, which bind chromosomes together and provide structure for cells.

While it may seem ludicrous to study a deworming medication for dogs to treat human cancer, the research being done by researchers like CRI’s Mason and his collaborator, Karin U. Sorenmo, PhD, is not without promise. Their treatment is designed to activate a specialized receptor found on immune cells that orchestrates overall immune responses by telling T cells—the “foot soldiers” of the body’s immune system—what to attack. By targeting this receptor with a vaccine, they hope to spur an immune response against cancer cells. dog dewormer cancer

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