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This article is the author’s final published version in Biomedicines, Volume 10, Issue 12, December 2022, Article number 3249.

The published version is available at Copyright © Schultz and Nevler.


Pyrvinium, a lipophilic cation belonging to the cyanine dye family, has been used in the clinic as a safe and effective anthelminthic for over 70 years. Its structure, similar to some polyaminopyrimidines and mitochondrial-targeting peptoids, has been linked with mitochondrial localization and targeting. Over the past two decades, increasing evidence has emerged showing pyrvinium to be a strong anti-cancer molecule in various human cancers in vitro and in vivo. This efficacy against cancers has been attributed to diverse mechanisms of action, with the weight of evidence supporting the inhibition of mitochondrial function, the WNT pathway, and cancer stem cell renewal. Despite the overwhelming evidence demonstrating the efficacy of pyrvinium for the treatment of human cancers, pyrvinium has not yet been repurposed for the treatment of cancers. This review provides an in-depth analysis of the history of pyrvinium as a therapeutic, the rationale and data supporting its use as an anticancer agent, and the challenges associated with repurposing pyrvinium as an anti-cancer agent.

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