COUNCIL CHRONICLE – A team of scientists is looking to fight back against brain cancer through the use of another feared health problem, the Zika virus. The researchers used this to target and kill glioblastoma cells in the brains of mice in a new study.
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers are behind this latest research.
Brain Cancer to Be Defeated by Another Health Enemy?
Scientists are still studying and looking to determine the full spectrum of effects of the Zika virus on the human body. However, a team of researchers took a different approach and is currently looking to determine how this harmful virus could be used to improve health.
In doing so, they are suggesting that this could be a useful treatment for glioblastoma. This a fatal and also the most common type of brain cancer. Reports show that around 12,000 people living in the United States get diagnosed with it every year.
Glioblastomas can lead to the death of the patient within a year of the diagnosis, but the research team considers that this study might improve the chances of fighting against this.
“Zika targets fetal neuroprogenitor stem cells. Cancer stem cells share similarities with these cells. Zhe Zhu, a post-doctoral fellow, had the idea to see whether Zika could also target tumor stem cells,” Dr. Michael S. Diamond, the study’s senior co-author, is reported as stating.
The New Treatment and Its Testing Methods
The team first tested this by injecting the Zika virus into brain cancer stem cells removed for diagnosis. This revealed that the virus could infect and kill the cancer stem cells. Although Zika avoided other tumor cells, the team believes these could be removed through chemotherapy – radiation treatments.
To test the effects on living animals, the team injected either the Zika virus or a placebo in the tumors of mice diagnosed with brain cancer. Two weeks later, the tumors of the Zika-treated mice group were reportedly significantly smaller.
The researchers also tested it on brain tissue from people with epilepsy, which showed that Zika did not affect non-malignant cells.
Still, the team considers that there is still more work and research to be done before this method can become a brain cancer treatment. For example, the researchers are considering genetically modifying the Zika virus to target just the tumor cells.
Nonetheless, more discussion and directions will probably follow before a decission is taken. Current study findings are available in a paper in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
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