Amazing Discovery About Zika Virus!
The Zika virus is making headlines once again. But this time, it has nothing to do with its destructive nature, but its potential to kill deadly cancer.
A new study revealed that Zika virus could be used to target and attack cancer cells in the brain particularly with patients with glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer.
How is this possible?
The researchers found that Zika virus preferentially infected and killed patient-derived glioblastoma stem cells compared with other glioblastoma cell types or normal neural cells. When mice with aggressive glioma were injected with a mouse-adapted strain of Zika virus, the virus slowed tumor growth and significantly extended the animals’ lifespan.
The study was spearheaded by a powerhouse of researchers composed of Milan Chheda and Michael Diamond from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Using Zika Virus To Target Tumor Cells
The researchers discovered that Zika virus could be a weapon to target the cells most likely responsible for the return of tumors after treatment and operation especially in the cases of patients with brain cancer or with glioblastoma. This type of cancer is driven by stem cells that proliferate and give rise to other tumor cells. However, the Zika virus could reverse this from happening.
Jeremy Rich, one of the authors of the study said, “This effort represents the creative synthesis of three research groups with complementary expertise to attack a deadly cancer by harnessing the cause of another disease.”
Aside from that, the researchers found a mutant strain of Zika that is less virulent than naturally occurring strains of the virus. This “attenuated” strain, which is more sensitive to the body’s immune response, was still able to specifically target and kill glioblastoma stem cells and was even more effective when combined with a chemotherapy drug, temozolomide, that usually has little effect on these cells.
Michael Diamond, co-author of the study and also from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said, “Our study is a first step towards the development of safe and effective strains of Zika virus that could become important tools in neuro-oncology and the treatment of glioblastoma.”
What is Zika Virus?
Zika is a life-threatening mosquito-borne virus that has spread to more than 30 countries and continues its rapid spread across the Americas. The virus has been linked to the birth defect “microcephaly,” a condition marked by abnormally small fetal head size that is linked to developmental problems, and to neurological disease Guillain-Barre syndrome. It was so alarming that Colombian authorities encouraged women to delay pregnancy for six to eight months following the notification of the viral scare.