Zika, a harmful virus that can cause disastrous brain damage in infants could present an astounding new treatment for adult brain cancer, according to US scientists.
This virus which arrived in South America from Polynesia around 4 years ago, is most harmful for pregnant woman. This will cause abnormally small heads (microcephaly) for infants and some associated neurological problems to the infants of the women who were infected while pregnant.
This can also lead to higher rate of miscarriage. All this is because unlike most microbes, Zika can pass from blood to brain infecting and damaging the stem cells which ceases to develop the brain functions and its activity, causing some neurological issues. But this potential to infect brain stem cells can also be useful for fighting the deadly brain cancers, many of which are caused by mutant stem cells.
Till now Zika has been seen as a global threat but not as a remedy. But the latest researches proved wrong stating that it could cure deadly brain cancers.
An experiment conducted on fully grown mice. Zika injections shrank aggressive tumors in it leaving other brain cells unscathed.
The Journal of Experimental Medicine reports stated that the trails running on this are very far, but the experts believe Zika virus can potentially inject into the brain at the same time as surgery to remove life threatening tumours.
The hardest brain cancer to treat is Gliobastomas which is common in adults. They are very fast and can diffuse, spread through brain making it trickious to see where the infected cell ends and new healthy tissue begins. Radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery are not ample to treat these kind of tumours.
Latest research which is conducted on mice which are alive and donated brain tissue samples shows Zika therapy can kill cells that can kill cells which are resistant to present treatments.
Glibastoma cells continue to grow and divide producing new tumour cells after current aggressive treatments.
Researchers say that enough healthy cells are found in baby brains which probably explains why regular Zika can be so damaging to infants. Adult brains have less number of stem cells which shows that Zika treatment should destroy only the cancer causing brain stem cells without causing much collateral damage.
The team from Washington University School of Medicine and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine started their research on modifying the Zika virus to make it more docile than regular Zika.
“Once we add a few more changes, I think it’s going to be impossible for the virus to overcome them and cause disease,” said Researcher Dr Michael Diamond.
“It looks like there is a severe lining to Zika. This virus that targets cells that are very important for brain growth in babies, we could that now to target growing tumours.” Hoping to start trails within 18 months.
Fighting cancers using virus is not a new idea, the choice is using Zika as a weapon for that.
Scientists at UK are conducting similar trials on Zika at University of Cambridge.
Dr. Catherine Pickworth, from cancer research UK, said: “This promising research shows that a modified version of Zika virus can attack brain tumour cells in the lab.”
“This could one day leads to new treatments for this particularly hard to treat type of cancer.”
- Zika virus disease can be primarily transmitted through Aedes mosquito.
- Most of the people won’t have any symptoms but this can possess a serious threat to babies in the womb.
- Affected babies will have small heads and underdeveloped brains called microcephaly.
- It is linked to severe birth defects in almost 30 countries.
- Even though Zika is no longer “an international medical emergency,” the WHO says that it is closely kept under observation.