A recent research has found that Zika virus may possess the effective treatment for glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer.
Zika virus causes devastating damage to the brains of developing fetuses, causing babies to be born with tiny, misshapen heads.
But the study found that the virus kills brain cancer stem cells, the kind of cells most resistant to standard treatments.
The researchers explained that despite the aggressive use of surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation for treatment, most tumours recur within six months.
However, the findings suggest that the lethal power of the virus could be directed at malignant cells in the brain, potentially improving people’s chances against glioblastoma.
The researchers injected either Zika virus or salt water, a placebo, directly into the brain tumors of 18 and 15 mice, respectively.
The result showed that tumours were significantly smaller in the Zika-treated mice two weeks after injection, and those mice survived significantly longer than the ones given salt water.
The researchers explained that if Zika was used in people, it would have to be injected into the brain, most likely during surgery to remove the primary tumour.
They added that if introduced through another part of the body, the person’s immune system would sweep it away before it could reach the brain.
The research was carried out by Zhe Zhu, PhD of neuroprogenitor cells, Michael Diamond and Milan Chheda of Washington University School of Medicine and Jeremy Rich, MD, University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
“We showed that Zika virus can kill the kind of glioblastoma cells that tend to be resistant to current treatments and lead to death,” said Diamond.
According to Chheda, “We see Zika one day being used in combination with current therapies to eradicate the whole tumor”.
The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
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