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Antifungal Drug Found Effective Against Tumor Growth

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Antifungal Drug Found Effective Against Tumor Growth

A new discovery could help treat cancer. It seems that thiabendazole, a drug used as antifungal, can inhibit the growth of tumors. Researchers at the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, could demonstrate that thiabendazole destroys blood vessels that form in the tumor and therefore inhibit tumor growth. Thiabendazole is an FDA-approved drug for treating parasites (roundworm Infections), such as those caused by Enterobius vermicularis, Ascaris lumbricoides, Strongyloides stercoralis or Toxocara canis.

Tumor Blood Vessels

Now, according to a research published in the journal PLoS Biology, researchers at The University of Texas found that this drug is effective in stopping tumor growth. Researchers made this discovery during studies regarding the link between yeast and vertebrates (frogs, mice and Humans). Edward Marcotte, professor of chemistry, said this finding was made by chance because they made the discovery while studying yeast genes. Researchers found that yeast genes responsable for response to various stresses to the cell have an equivalent in genes responsible for angiogenesis in vertebrates. Therefore they have thought that a drug that inhibits the yeast genes could also inhibit  genes for angiogenesis. The results were positive and researchers continued their studies on frog embrios. Then they tested the drug on human blood vessel cells in the laboratory. The results were, again, promising.

Marcotte added that thiabendazole is the first vascular disrupting agent and can be used in the future in combination with chemotherapy to treat cancer. Thiabendazole stops the formation of new blood vessels that form in the tumor. By inhibiting vascularization, this drug inhibits tumor growth. Finally, the therapeutic potential of this drug has been shown through experiments on mice. In this way researchers could prove that thiabendazole decreases fibrosarcomas growth by more than half. Fibrosarcoma is a malignant tumor derived from connective tissue. This type of tumor cells have a specific arrangement, called herringbone pattern and a rich vascularity.

Now, researchers hope that thiabendazole  will be tested in clinical trials on humans. Marcotte said that this drug is already approved by the FDA for human use and that this should make things easier for its use in clinical trials. It should be mentioned that angiogenesis is already a target in cancer therapy. Angiogenesis inhibitors such as bevacizumab (Avstin), are used to treat several types of cancer: colorectal, ovarian, lung, kidney and glioblastoma. Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody that inhibits VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor.