Zika virus may possess 'potential cure for brain cancer'

Zika virus may possess 'potential cure for brain cancer'

Zika virus may possess 'potential cure for brain cancer'

Few will forget the distressing images of babies born with severe brain defects and abnormalities caused during the Zika epidemic in South America. Current study findings are available in a paper in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

To test their hypothesis that the Zika virus could target and kill glioblastoma stem cells, the team first conducted experiments in vitro, using glioblastoma specimens collected from tumors that had been surgically removed.

So far, researchers have been successful injecting mice tumors with Zika.

The destructive power of the virus, Zika was discovered past year during the epidemic in Brazil. They injected the virus into mice suffering from glioblastomas.

The Zika virus may infect and kill a specific type of brain cancer cells while leaving normal adult brain tissue minimally affected, according to a new study supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Co-director of the study Professor Michael Diamond said: 'We hypothesised that the preference of Zika virus for neural precursor cells could be leveraged against glioblastoma stem cells'.

The researchers also tested it on brain tissue from people with epilepsy, which showed that Zika did not affect non-malignant cells. In this case, it was found that the virus decelerated tumor growth, improving the animals' life expectancy. Cancer stem cells share similarities with these cells. Glioblastomas grow aggressively from a mass of unspecialized cells; ZIKV is known to infect similar cells in the nervous systems of developing fetuses.

The researchers were also interested in seeing how Zika compares with other viruses belonging to the same genus, such as the West Nile virus, which is also transmitted via mosquito bites. After seven days, the researchers found that ZIKV had replicated in certain glioblastoma cells and prevented them from multiplying, while the ordinary neural tissue cultures remained largely uninfected. "Obviously, this would preclude its use as a tumor therapy", Dr. This can be the reason why Zika treatment is not much effective in babies as it destroys the entire stem cells in small kids.

The scientists involved in the research are hopeful about the encouraging results so far.

As the testing took place in mice, human testing is still some ways off. "But it is a start and has given us encouragement to consider it as a future treatment alongside radiation and chemotherapy", Dr. Chheda told Sputnik. Hence, Zika treatment can act a supplementary treatment for destroying these stem cells. It should open more opportunities for studies on genetic engineering for a safer and more effective Zika virus against brain cancer.

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