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Pinworm Drug Mebendazole Could Fight Pleural Mesothelioma

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University believe that a drug used to pinworm infections could help fight pleural mesothelioma someday. Mebendazole (MBZ) is a broad-spectrum benzimidazole anthelmintic drug in the same class as medications such as oxfendazole, flubendazole, and albendazole. The drug has been used for decades to treat parasitical worm infections in humans and domestic animals including pinworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and other similar infections.

In a broad range of pre-clinical studies across a number of different cancer types, researchers found that MBZ has anti-cancer properties. The studies were published just a few years ago. At the time, several case reports of anti-cancer activity in humans were noted. Data also showed that mebendazole would synergize with a range of other drugs, including existing chemotherapeutics. Candidate cancer types cited for additional study included non-small cell lung cancer, adrenocortical cancer, melanoma, osteosarcoma, colon cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer.

In just a few short years since, researchers have made a notable amount of progress. A report released by NPR this year explains how Johns Hopkins researchers discovered in animal studies, that MBZ not only staved off the parasites, it stopped cancer from developing. The mice used in the study had been implanted with cancer cells.

Other researchers were already testing the drug and its effects on lung cancer and melanoma. Phase I studies showed that the drug was well tolerated in adults and children. Researchers at Johns Hopkins hope to begin Phase II trials soon to conduct further studies of the effects of the drug in adult cancer patients—starting with brain cancer. The hope is that MBZ has the ability to help the body manage all types of cancer, including mesothelioma.


Aubrey, Allison. "A Pinworm Medication Is Being Tested As A Potential Anti-Cancer Drug." NPR. NPR, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

"National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health." U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). National Institutes of Health (NIH), n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

Pantziarka, Pan, Gauthier Bouche, Lydie Meheus, Vidula Sukhatme, and Vikas P. Sukhatme. "Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) Mebendazole as an Anti-cancer Agent." Ecancermedicalscience 9 (2014): n. pag. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

"Truven Health Analytics." Truven Health Analytics. Truven Health Analytics, an IBM Company, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.