Health In Focus
  • Brain tumors are a mass or growth of abnormal cells in the brain.
  • Antiparasitic drug Mebendazole may replace the current treatments used for certain brain cancers.
  • The drug is found to kill the isolated tumors in the brain and is also effective in slowing down the growth of glioma tumors.

Mebendazole is a common medication administered to treat pinworms; the drug may replace the current treatments used for certain brain cancers, finds a study from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research's Karches Center for Oncology Research.

The research findings published in the journal Molecular Medicine, could help the patients suffering from one of the common types of brain tumors called low-grade glioma.
Can Mebendazole Drug be an Effective Treatment For Brain Tumors?

Brain tumor is a mass or growth of the abnormal cells in the brain. According to the American Cancer Society, around 23,800 tumors of the brain and the spinal cord are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2017.

Examining Antiparasitic Drug To Treat Brain Tumors

The research team examined the drug mebendazole, a medication that is used to treat parasitic pinworms which on previous studies showed that it could be effective for the treatment of glioma tumors.

Mebendazole drug was found to work exactly the same way as that of vincristine. It was even capable of effectively slowing down the growth of glioma tumors when compared to vincristine drug.

Dr. Symons, said, "We were rather surprised to see that vincristine, which is currently used to treat a range of different brain tumors, was totally ineffective in our in vivo glioma model."

"In contrast, in the same model, mebendazole performed quite well, most likely because mebendazole crosses the blood-brain barrier and reaches the tumor much better than vincristine. The reason that vincristine may be erroneously believed to be effective for the treatment of brain tumors is that it always has been used in combination with other treatments."

The research team is also now focusing on how to initiate the clinical trials to check whether vincristine drug can be replaced by mebendazole for the treatment of brain tumors.

Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute, said, "Sometimes innovation can be looking at an existing treatment in a new light."

"This new approach needs to be tested in clinical trials, but with Dr. Symons' new findings we may be closer to a new treatment option that could prolong the lives of the patients suffering from low-grade glioma and other brain tumors."

Low-Grade Glioma

It is a tumor which originates from two types of brain cells called astrocytes and oligodendrocytes that support and protect the brain's nervous system. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are some of the treatment options for these tumors.

Since, most of the drugs cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier the brain tumor chemotherapy can be challenging.

Example, vincristine drug can be routinely used as a part of different drug cocktails used for the treatment of brain tumors. They may be rather toxic or may poorly cross the blood-brain barrier.

Mebendazole Drug - Antiparasitic Drug

Mebendazole drug can be used for the treatment of several types of worm infections including pinworm, roundworm, whipworm and hookworm infections. The drug belongs to a group of medications called anthelmintics and mainly acts by killing the worms.

Brain Tumor Facts

  • Brain tumors are considered to be the leading cause of cancer-related death for people under the age of 20
  • The average survival rate for malignant brain tumor patients is 34.2%
  • Around 120 different types of brain tumors are identified, which may complicate effective treatments
  • Secondary tumors are the most common form of brain tumors that are meta-sized or spread to other parts of the body from the brain
  • The cure rate for brain tumors may be significantly low when compared to other types of cancer
References :
  1. Marc Symons, 'Repurposing Mebendazole as a Replacement for Vincristine for the Treatment of Brain Tumors' Molecular Medicine, (2017); doi: 10.2119/molmed.2017.00011
  2. What Are the Key Statistics About Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors? - (
  3. Mebendazole - (
  4. 10 facts about brain tumors that you might not know - (

Source: Medindia

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