Saturday, September 9, 2017

Zika virus kills brain cancer, may be potential treatment

Brain cancer stem cells (left) are killed by Zika
virus infection (right). – photo courtesy
Washington University 
CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 9, 2017 – The Zika virus kills brain cancer stem cells and may be an effective treatment for glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer, say researchers from Washington University and the University of San Diego School of Medicine.

The findings, published Sept. 5 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine showed laboratory results of glioblastoma tumors removed from patients that the researchers infected with two strains of Zika virus.

Both strains spread through the tumors, infecting and killing the cancer stem cells while largely avoiding other tumor cells.

The findings suggest that Zika infection and chemo-radiation therapy could have complementary effects, killing tumor cells with chemo-radiation and killing the stem cells that continue to generate cancer cells with the Zika infection.

To find out whether the virus could help treat cancer in a living animal, the researchers injected either Zika virus or saltwater (a placebo) directly into the brain tumors of 33 mice. Tumors were significantly smaller in the Zika-treated mice two weeks after injection, and those mice survived significantly longer than the ones given saltwater.

“We see Zika one day being used in combination with current therapies to eradicate the whole tumor,” said Milan Chheda, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and of neurology at Washington University.

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