Drug Discov Ther. 2009;3(6):243-246.

Ivermectin inactivates the kinase PAK1 and blocks the PAK1-dependent growth of human ovarian cancer and NF2 tumor cell lines.

Hashimoto H, Messerli SM, Sudo T, Maruta H


Ivermectin is an old anti-parasitic antibiotic which selectively kills nematodes at a very low dose (0.2 mg/kg) by inhibiting their GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor, but not mammalian counterpart. Interestingly, several years ago it was reported by a Russian group that Ivermectin can suppress almost completely the growth of human melanoma and a few other cancer xenografts in mice at the much higher doses (3-5 mg/kg) without any adverse effect on mice. However, its anti-cancer mechanism still remained to be clarified at the molecular levels, that would determine the specific type of cancers susceptible to this drug. The first hint towards its anti-PAK1 potential was a recent finding that Ivermectin at its sublethal doses dramatically reduces the litter size (number of eggs laid) of the tiny nematode C. elegans. Interestingly, either a PAK1-deficiency (gene knock-out) or treatment with natural anti-PAK1 products such as CAPE (caffeic acid phenethyl ester) and ARC (artepillin C), the major anti-cancer ingredients in propolis, also causes the exactly same effect on this nematode, suggesting the possibility that the kinase PAK1 might be a new target of Ivermectin. This kinase is required for the growth of more than 70% of human cancers such as pancreatic, colon, breast and prostate cancers and NF (neurofibromatosis) tumors. Here we demonstrate for the first time that Ivermectin blocks the oncogenic kinase PAK1 in human ovarian cancer and NF2-deficient Schwannoma cell lines to suppress their PAK1-dependent growth in cell culture, with the IC50 between 5-20 μM depending on cell lines.

KEYWORDS: Ivermectin, PAK1, ovarian cancer, neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), C. elegans

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