Cancer is the second leading cause of death in humans, and it’s often difficult to treat. Chemotherapy and radiation can help, but many patients do not respond well to these treatments or experience severe side effects. A new type of immunotherapy has shown promise in animal studies – stimulating the immune system to fight tumours. But how to do that in people? Research suggests that a parasite found in dogs may be key.
Joe Tippens was given three months to live when he was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer in 2016. He knew that he could not accept this prognosis, so he turned to alternative medicine. He started taking the spice curcumin, CBD oil, and mega doses of vitamin E. But it was a drug approved to rid animals of pinworms that saved him: dog dewormer.
Fenbendazole is an anthelmintic, which means that it rids dogs and cats of pinworms by killing their adult worms. In fact, it’s used in veterinary oncology clinics to prevent cancerous growths in animals that undergo chemotherapy and amputation.
In a clinical trial, researchers injected the drug to a dog with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that can cause limb paralysis. The listeria they injected contained a gene that’s found in some osteosarcoma cells, and when the modified bacteria were ingested, it was supposed to awaken the dog’s immune system so it would attack the cancerous tumors.
The dog’s immune system was indeed triggered, but not the way researchers intended. Instead, the dog’s killer cells acted like they were attacking pinworms, and killed all of the other cells in the dog’s body. The results were stunning. dog dewormer cancer