Repurposing the anthelmintic drug Niclosamide

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Niclosamide is an anthelmintic medication that has been used for decades to treat various types of parasitic infections in humans and animals. Niclosamide works by disrupting the energy metabolism of the parasitic worms, specifically by interfering with their ability to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is essential for their survival. This disruption ultimately leads to the death of the parasites.

This drug is present in the Model List of Essential Medicines from the World Health Organization, used since the 1960s for tapeworm infection. Niclosamide was approved by the US FDA in 1982 but it is not currently available for human use in the United States. 

However, in recent years, there has been growing interest in niclosamide for its potential to treat other conditions, particularly certain types of cancers and viral infections. Research has shown that niclosamide may have antiviral properties against a range of viruses, including coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19). It has also demonstrated potential in inhibiting the growth of certain cancer cells.


Approximately 10% of people in the United States live with diabetes, which amounts to a total of 34.2 million. Prediabetes is pronounced in one out of every three Americans (totaling 88 million). Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that various treatments will confer beneficial outcomes for metabolic diseases.

Research in both animal models and cell cultures has shown some promising results, suggesting that niclosamide may have beneficial effects on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Some research suggests that niclosamide may work synergistically with other diabetes medications, potentially enhancing their effectiveness.

It’s important to note that while these findings are promising, much of the research on niclosamide and diabetes is still in the preclinical stage, and clinical trials in humans are needed to determine its safety and efficacy as a diabetes treatment.

Parkinson’s Disease

Niclosamide has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects in various conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. It has shown neuroprotective properties in preclinical studies. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are thought to play a role in the development and progression of Parkinson’s. Niclosamide has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties in various studies, which could be beneficial in a neurodegenerative context.

Viral Infections

Niclosamide has garnered interest for its potential antiviral properties. Research has indicated that it may be effective against a range of viruses. A trial with capsules niclosamide has demonstrated antiviral activity against a variety of viruses, including RNA viruses like coronaviruses (including SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19), as well as DNA viruses like herpesviruses. 

Niclosamide has shown potential in preventing the entry of viruses into host cells. This is a crucial step in the viral life cycle and a common target for antiviral drugs. This drug has been investigated for its potential to work synergistically with other antiviral drugs. Combining niclosamide with other agents may enhance the overall antiviral effect.

It’s important to note that while the preclinical research on niclosamide’s antiviral properties is promising, further studies and clinical trials are needed to fully understand its effectiveness and safety in treating viral infections in humans. Additionally, different viruses may respond differently to niclosamide, and its efficacy may vary depending on the specific virus and its characteristics.

Bacterial Infections

In recent years, there has been growing interest in Niclosamide’s potential antibacterial properties, particularly in the context of antibiotic resistance. This drug has demonstrated antibacterial activity against a range of gram-positive bacteria. This includes bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause infections ranging from skin infections to more serious conditions like pneumonia and sepsis. Niclosamide has shown promise in inhibiting the formation of bacterial biofilms. Biofilms are communities of bacteria that can adhere to surfaces and are often more resistant to antibiotics.

Some studies have suggested that niclosamide may work synergistically with certain antibiotics, enhancing their effectiveness. This potential synergy could be valuable in combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It’s important to note that while the research on niclosamide’s antibacterial properties is promising, clinical trials in humans are necessary to determine its safety and efficacy as a standalone antibacterial agent or in combination with existing antibiotics.


Research has indicated that niclosamide may have several properties that could make it a valuable addition to cancer treatment strategies. Niclosamide has demonstrated the ability to inhibit the proliferation (growth and division) of various cancer cell types. It interferes with cellular processes involved in cell division, which is essential for tumor growth.

Niclosamide has been shown to induce apoptosis, a programmed cell death process, in cancer cells. This is a critical mechanism for controlling the growth of cancer cells. Niclosamide has been investigated for its potential to overcome drug resistance, a common problem in cancer therapy. It may sensitize cancer cells to other treatments.

In some cases, niclosamide has been explored as part of combination therapy with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or targeted therapies. Combining niclosamide with other agents may enhance the overall effectiveness. While these findings are promising, it’s important to note that much of the research on niclosamide’s potential in cancer treatment is still in the preclinical stage or based on laboratory studies and animal models.

It’s important to note that while there is promising research regarding niclosamide’s potential applications beyond its traditional use, further studies and clinical trials are needed to fully understand its effectiveness and safety in these contexts.

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