Colorectal cancer is one of leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Therefore, there have been various attempts to cure the cancer by developing new efficient anti-cancer therapy in addition to surgical resection and chemotherapy. In this study, we investigated the effects of fenbendazole, an anti-helminthic drug, both colon cancer cells and patient-derived colon tumor organoids. Notably, we employed 3D tumor organoid models because 2D-cultured cell lines were not able to recapitulate the physiology of solid tumors. We first observed that treatment of fenbendazole to colon cancer cells induced apoptosis within 24 hours, which was extended for a long-term. We revealed that fenbendazole markedly suppressed proliferation rate via cell cycle arrest. Cell cycle progression is elaborately regulated by multiple genes, such as cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). From a screening of cell cycle-related factors, we found that the protein levels of CDK1 phosphorylated at Tyr15 and cyclin B1 which was known to regulate M phase transition, were drastically downregulated when the tumor cells were exposed to fenbendazole. Next, colorectal tumor-bearing mouse model was established using AOM/DSS. Oral administration of fenbendazole into the mouse not only reduced the number of tumor cells but also lowered tumor grades. Overall, our study suggested a possibility that fenbendazole could be applied for anti-cancer therapy by targeting cell cycle arrest.

Citation Format: Kyung-Sun Kang, Da-Hyun Kim. Fenbendazole induces cell cycle arrest in colorectal cancer cells and patient-derived colon cancer organoids [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2022; 2022 Apr 8-13. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2022;82(12_Suppl):Abstract nr 2313.