Doxycycline, salinomycin, monensin and ivermectin repositioned as cancer drugs

Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2019 Jul 1;29(13):1549-1554. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2019.04.045. Epub 2019 Apr 27.


Chemotherapy is one of the standard methods for the treatment of malignant tumors. It aims to cause lethal damage to cellular structures, mainly DNA. Noteworthy, in recent years discoveries of novel anticancer agents from well-known antibiotics have opened up new treatment pathways for several cancer diseases. The aim of this review article is to describe new applications for the following antibiotics: doxycycline (DOX), salinomycin (SAL), monensin (MON) and ivermectin (IVR) as they are known to show anti-tumor activity, but have not yet been introduced into standard oncological therapy. To date, these agents have been used for the treatment of a broad-spectrum of bacterial and parasitic infectious diseases and are widely available, which is why they were selected. The data presented here clearly show that the antibiotics mentioned above should be recognised in the near future as novel agents able to eradicate cancer cells and cancer stem cells (CSCs) across several cancer types.

Keywords: Anticancer antibiotic; Cancer stem cells; New anticancer agent; Off-target effect.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Doxycycline / pharmacology
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Ivermectin / pharmacology
  • Ivermectin / therapeutic use*
  • Monensin / pharmacology
  • Monensin / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pyrans / pharmacology
  • Pyrans / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Pyrans
  • salinomycin
  • Ivermectin
  • Monensin
  • Doxycycline