July, 2024
July 2024
The Versatile Victory of Albendazole and Anthelminthic Azoles – Chibuike Okafor
Jul 2, 2024, 13:42

The Versatile Victory of Albendazole and Anthelminthic Azoles – Chibuike Okafor

“Imagine a group of seasoned investigators who were trained to find worms and who are now using their expertise to eliminate cancer cells. In the fight against cancer, meet albendazole and its anthelminthic azole friends—the unsung heroes. Their journey from worm soldiers to cancer fighters is a story of molecular wizardry and cunning strategy.

Albendazole was created to paralyze and kill parasitic worms, much like other anthelminthic azoles like mebendazole and fenbendazole. These medications essentially stop the worms in their tracks by attaching to tubulin, a protein that is essential for cell division. The twist is that tubulin is also necessary for cancer cells to divide and conquer, just like it is for worms. Albendazole and its allies have discovered a new mission: to disrupt the cancer cell cycle by seizing control of this mechanism.

Because tubulin is essential for cell division, the cell cycle can be compared to an exquisitely orchestrated performance. The structure known as the mitotic spindle, which divides chromosomes into two new cells during mitosis, is formed by tubulin.

Tubulin is bound by albendazole, which inhibits its normal formation and function. Imagine if the strings in an orchestra were suddenly muted; mayhem would break out and the performance would come to an abrupt end. This disruption prevents cancer cells from dividing, which results in cell death. That’s not all, though.

Albendazole also targets different components of the machinery of the cancer cell. It prevents angiogenesis, the process by which tumors grow by forming new blood vessels. Like cutting off the cancer cells’ food supply and weakening them, it’s like doing so to an enemy fortress.

Albendazole also causes apoptosis, which is a type of programmed cell death that cancer cells typically avoid. Sending in a SWAT team to make sure the rogue cells self-destruct is analogous to that.

What is the reason behind developing these anthelminthic azoles as agents against cancer? They are powerful adversaries due to their broad-spectrum action, which targets several pathways essential to cancer cell survival. Through anti-angiogenesis, they stop the blood supply, modify the cell cycle by interfering with tubulin, and trigger apoptosis, resulting in a complex assault that cancer cells find difficult to repel.

It takes more than just repurposing medications to go from anthelminthic to anticancer superstar; it takes using their special mechanisms in a new arena of warfare.

Albendazole and its azole cousins provide evidence that the most skilled investigators for one case may also be the most qualified for another, pushing their abilities to the limit and taking on novel challenges.

The next time you hear about albendazole, imagine yourself as a master investigator working on a new case, making sure that the orchestra of cell division is silenced in all the appropriate places and outwitting cancer cells at every turn. The worm warriors have discovered a new foe, and they are dispatching it expertly and skillfully.”

Written by Chibuike Okafor
Research Assistant at Department of Pharmaceutical/Medicinal Chemistry University of Jos

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