Int J Mol Sci 2020 Jul 13;21(14). Epub 2020 Jul 13.
Department of Systems Medicine, University of "Tor Vergata", 00133 Rome, Italy.
Tumors of the digestive system, when combined together, account for more new cases and deaths per year than tumors arising in any other system of the body and their incidence continues to increase. Despite major efforts aimed at discovering and validating novel and effective drugs against these malignancies, the process of developing such drugs remains lengthy and costly, with high attrition rates. Drug repositioning (also known as drug repurposing), that is, the process of finding new uses for approved drugs, has been gaining popularity in oncological drug development as it provides the opportunity to expedite promising anti-cancer agents into clinical trials. Among the drugs considered for repurposing in oncology, compounds belonging to some classes of anthelmintics-a group of agents acting against infections caused by parasitic worms (helminths) that colonize the mammalian intestine-have shown pronounced anti-tumor activities and attracted particular attention due to their ability to target key oncogenic signal transduction pathways. In this review, we summarize and discuss the available experimental and clinical evidence about the use of anthelmintic drugs for the treatment of cancers of the digestive system.