Researchers have discovered that the Zika virus shares similar traits to glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer and therefore are considering the virus as an alternative brain cancer treatment instead of the traditional routes of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
How The Zika Virus Can Be Used As A Brain Cancer Treatment
The Zika virus is considered highly dangerous to a fetus and can cause severe birth defects. Researchers have concluded that because the virus targets stem cells and fetal tissue, the virus may also be able to target glioblastoma cells since both the virus and the brain cancer share similar methods of cell growth and division.
Researchers tested the possible treatment by injecting a saltwater placebo or the virus into the brain tumors of mice. After two weeks, mice that had been treated with the virus exhibited smaller tumors. The researchers also tested a weaker version of the virus and saw promising results. This weaker strain also allows a body’s healthy cells to fight the virus and puts less strain on the body.
“We envision tests in humans and eventually adding this to existing conventional therapy to kill the otherwise resistant stem cell component of the tumor. But we need to further test safety and we need to first prove this works in human glioblastomas when transplanted into mice,”
Dr. Michael Diamond stated. Human trials are slated to begin in 18 months.
12,000 people are diagnosed with glioblastomas each year and could benefit from the treatment. However, some pushback may be expected from those who oppose stem cell treatment on moral or religious grounds. Despite this chance, the observation of parallel means of stem cell growth and division will greatly advance cancer research and effective treatment options for cancer patients as a whole.
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