In recent weeks, posts claiming that a dog dewormer is a cancer cure have gained traction on social media. The anecdotal claims are based on the story of Joe Tippens, who says that his advanced lung cancer went into remission after he began taking a pet wormer recommended by a holistic veterinarian.

Tippens’ anecdotal success has left researchers at MD Anderson, the National Institutes of Health and other prestigious medical centers scratching their heads and raising eyebrows. But the wormer he took is no ordinary dewormer. It’s fenbendazole, also known by brand names like Safe Guard, Pro Sense and Panacur. It is commonly used to treat pinworms and other parasitic infections in dogs.

Several studies suggest that the drug may have potential to treat some cancers in humans. In one study, a team led by Johns Hopkins researcher Jian Chen found that fenbendazole stopped glioblastoma tumors from growing in mice. They did not know how it worked, but they believe it may have worked by blocking the growth of microtubules that provide structure to cells and help them move, divide and survive.

Another team, led by a former MD Anderson cancer researcher named James Riggins, investigated how fenbendazole might work as a human cancer treatment. The research suggested that the drug may work by cutting off a parasite’s supply of food. It does this by targeting tubulin, a protein that’s both the parasite’s micro-skeleton and its highway for transporting nutrients. By disrupting tubulin’s formation, the drug starves the parasite and kills it. dewormer for cancer

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