by Gary Vey
Ordinarily, an article like this might not appeal to someone with a minimal interest in biology. But this article is about cancer. That's something that we will all experience, either personally or with someone close to us.
I'm not going to bore you with statistics or preach about unhealthy lifestyles or genetics. The fact is that we all get cancer in our lifetime -- probably many times. Our bodies usually defend against the cancerous cells and they are destroyed before they can do any damage. Unfortunately, for some people, the battle isn't so easy and the outcome unclear.
But wait... there is good news. It's a medicine that seems too good to be true, yet it is. And get this -- it costs just a couple of dollars and its in most every local pharmacy. It's anti-cancer success has been well documented in journals (which I will show you) -- even with cancers that are unresponsive to other chemotherapy. While it kills cancer cells it poses no harm to the normal cells and has little or no side effects. It's called mebendazole and "Big Pharma" hopes you will never hear about it.
If you have ever cared for young children then you are probably familiar with this medicine under the name of Vermox, Ovex, Antiox, and Pripsen. It is usually prescribed to treat pinworms, roundworms, whip worms and hookworms -- organisms that find an unwelcome home in our intestines. For some time now, scientists have known how it works, but the method of death meted out to the targeted parasites was of little interest to them. But that has since changed.
How it works...
This next part gets a little technical. I'll try to explain things in a general way. I'm by no means a scientist or biologists but I'll share with you what I have learned.
One of the misconceptions that people have about a cell is that it contains a nucleus, a cell wall and everything inside (cytoplasm) kind of sloshes around in a liquid or gel. In fact, the inside of a cell contains a kind of scaffold made of micro-tubules, also called spindles, that have the ability to assemble and disassemble quicky. This network of rigid micro-tubules inside the cell gives it shape, structure and also has the ability to transfer organelles and various molecules to different parts within the cell, functioning like a railway system. But its most vital function is cell division.
You will easily understand the role of spindles by viewing this short animation.
Here is a video of the micro-tubules, showing how they assemble and dis-assemble. This is quite an amazing design and reminds us of the complexity of life.
Mebendazole is known to interfere and inhibit the assembly of the spindles, thus preventing the ability of the cells to divide. The cell eventually dies of old age or aptosis. Mebendazole is highly selective and somehow targets only cancerous cells (as well as a host of intestinal parasites). At the end of this article I will post a few of the many scientific papers acknowledging these facts.
You will also see why there is virtually no pharmaceutical interest in mebendazole. The big pharmaceutical companies are promoting more toxic chemotherapy drugs because there is no profit margin in mebendazole. It's yet another example of corporate profit outweighing human benefits.
What is Cancer?
When a cell divides, the common notion is that the two resulting cells are exactly identical. This is not correct. The process of copying DNA is not perfect and there are usually errors, although these are typically not serious. In fact, if a cell has too many errors in its DNA code it will not be able to reproduce and the errors die with that cell.
Human cells have a maximum number of times that they can reproduce themselves before the accumulated errors finally prevent reproduction -- it's called the Hayflick Limit. Most scientists agree that this number is around 60 times.
This "programmed" lifespan of a cell is determined by the length of a benign string of molecules attached to the ends of the DNA coils. Like leaders on a movie film, these break off or become misaligned during the replication process and provide a buffer zone, protecting the real DNA code. The longer a cell's leader, called a telomere, the more it can reproduce and the longer an organism can live.
Biologists have found that cancer cells are cells in which the damaged DNA code results in the activation of the telomere, causing it to regrow. The hayflick limit becomes infinite. The mutation makes the cell essentially immortal! Cancer does its damage by outliving and outnumbering the normal cells.
The fight against cancer has been one of isolation and selectively poisoning the cells. When cancer cells have integrated themselves in vital tissues, this becomes a major problem. Often, surgical attacks of cancerous tissue seems to stimulate their growth even more, resulting in a temporary relapse with regrowth. Likewise, chemotherapy and radiation are not selective enough to protect healthy cells and their method of death is toxic.
Mebendazole is different. It doesn't kill the cells with poison. It specifically prevents the cell from reproducing.
What has Big Pharma done?
Mebendazole was first synthesized by Janssen Pharmaceutical (later bought by Johnson & Johnson) in 1968. Its value as an anti-worm medicine was recognized and by 1972 mebendazole was being marketed under the name Vermox. Because the prescribed use was eliminating parasites it was inexpensive and widely used. The selective toxicity of mebendazole to cancerous cells had not yet been discovered.
Back in 1960 the US Government declared war on cancer and funded the Cancer Chemotherapy National Science Center. This agency received over 1000 samples of chemicals -- mostly synthetic -- that were exposed to a variety of animal and human cancer cells.
It must have been like a scene from the movie, Andromeda Strain, where thousands of substances were tested to kill the alien virus brought back in an interstellar probe. With such large sample numbers it was expected that some would prove effective in killing tumors. And that's exactly what happened.
In 1964 a worker at a contractor for the Center thought to include some natural chemistry in the study. He submitted a resin from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree (Taxus brevifolia), an endangered species endemic to the Washington State. It killed tumor cells while not harming healthy cells. They called it Taxol.
The down side to this discovery was that it took 12,000 pounds of fresh Yew bark to make just 10 grams of Taxol! At first, no pharmaceutical company was interested in developing the drug and trials with human subjects were put off. Only in 1979, when Taxol was shown to interfere with micro-tubules, did it receive revived interest as a profitable anti-cancer medicine.
Same, Same, but Different
Researchers were discovering the value of microtubule inhibitors in 1978. The safest one, mebendazole, was already on the market as a treatment for worms, and it was cheap. For a pharmaceutical company to invest in a cancer cure, it had to make a profit. So the next best candidate was the resin in the Pacific Yew -- Taxol.
Taxol is a microtubule inhibitor... sort of. Rather than prevent the tubules from forming, like mebendazole, Taxol acts like a glue and prevents the tubules from disassembly. It's a process called polymerization. This damages the internal structure of the cell in ways not related only to cell division. The side-effects of Taxol are many, while mebendazole has a reputation for being harmless and well tolerated.
But there's another big difference between Taxol and mebendazole -- the price. Taxol costs more than $200 a dose compared with the $2 for some chewable Vermox pills.
A prophylaxis agent?
Before I list the studies, I could not help but wonder why a person wouldn't take mebendazole periodically in one's life to purge the body of cancerous cells. It is known to be well tolerated with little toxicity. In some of the studies I will quote, mebendazole was taken with Tagamet(TM) to reduce the metabolizing effects of the liver and increase blood levels. This would appear to be an idea that ought to be explored.
Mebendazole is not currently recognized as an anti-cancer drug. The lack of investment by Big Pharma in conducting the many trials and protocols will likely not change this status. But physicians are capable of prescribing the medicine at their own discretion. And ordinary people should be able to secure this medicine themselves.
As promised -- here are some references for further research of mebendazole:
I'd like to hear from anyone with experience or additional information on this drug.
Epilogue: Discontinuation in United States
The last manufacturer of mebendazole in the United States, Teva Pharmaceuticals, announced on October 7, 2011, that they have ceased manufacture of this product. As of December, 2011, it is no longer available from any manufacturer in the USA. No reason was given for this discontinuation, but it's blatantly obvious.