While Tippens’ case certainly is inspiring, it’s important to note that fenben for humans hasn’t gone through any clinical trials to prove that it can treat cancer. In fact, the nonprofit organization Cancer Research UK told Full Fact that fenbendazole hasn’t been proven to be a safe or effective way to treat cancer. As a result, it should only be used under the supervision of a medical professional.
In experiments involving mice, hexokinase assays showed that fenbendazole binds to a location on tubulin and inhibits its activity. This causes glucose uptake to decrease in the cells, which can lead to apoptosis and cell death. Interestingly, this mechanism of action isn’t unique; other drugs that act similarly have been shown to be effective against some cancers in human patients.
A paper published in Scientific Reports also suggests that fenbendazole can be used to enhance the effects of conventional chemotherapy. In experiments involving mice, the researchers found that fenbendazole was able to reduce the number of tumors in unirradiated mice by more than half when combined with chemotherapy. Moreover, it was able to prevent the development of new cancers in irradiated mice by more than one third.
The scientists believe that fenbendazole acts to interrupt the formation of microtubules in cancer cells and disrupts their dynamics. This in turn allows p53, a gene that prevents tumors from forming, to be activated and cause the cell to self-destruct. It also alters the expression of genes that promote the growth of cancerous cells.