Cancer Care Parcel Logo

No products in the basket.

Cancer Care Parcel Logo

No products in the basket.

For Everyone Touched By Cancer

Science Turns Life-Threatening Zika Virus Into A Cure For Brain Cancer

Written by Luisa Robbez-Masson on 
22nd January, 2018
Updated: 3rd September, 2022
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

A Dangerous Virus

Zika virus and its devastating consequences to unborn babies made the headlines in 2015 when scientists first established a link between this mosquito-borne virus, microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome in babies, two devastating neurological disorders. Extensive research in the past couple of years on this previously poorly-known virus led scientists to the conclusion that Zika acts by infecting a very specific type of brain cells in the developing brain. These cells belong to the family of stem cells because of their capacity to renew themselves constantly.

A Clever Idea

This key finding led to the innovative idea that Zika could be used as a weapon against brain cancer. Indeed, Glioblastoma, the most prevalent form of brain cancer is believed to be fuelled by these very same brain stem cells. Conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments can destroy the bulk of a tumour, but the few remaining stem cells that may be left behind have the capacity to re-initiate tumour growth within 6 months. These stem cells can therefore explain the poor prognostic for this type of cancer which is currently less than 2 years’ median survival rate.

Encouraging Results

Using viruses to kill cancer cells is not new but a team of scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine shows that the Zika virus, unlike other viruses of the same family (West Nile virus) kills brain cancer stem cells, bringing hope for the development of future oncolytic virus therapies. Their initial results, published in September 2017 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, are very promising, suggesting that one day they may be a cure for brain cancer. The authors tested whether the virus could kill stem cells in glioblastomas removed from patients at diagnosis. They infected tumours in petri dish with Zika virus and looked at which type of cells were infected. The virus spread through the tumours, only infecting and killing the cancer stem cells. Using mice to test the behaviour of the virus in a living organism, they could show that tumours were reduced in size and, as a result, increased the lifespan of the animals.

Promising Potential For Combination Therapy

If Zika virus were used in people as a therapy or a cure for brain cancer, it would have to be injected directly into the brain, most likely during surgery to remove a primary tumour or in combination with chemotherapy. This is to avoid the immune system of the patient from finding and destroying the virus before it could reach the brain. The focus of the research now is to assess the safety of such treatment. Adults infected with Zika, usually display symptoms that resemble those of the common cold such as mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or a headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. By genetically altering the virus, scientists aim to reduce these symptoms that are the results of the virus infecting healthy cells.

Many more steps are needed to translate these initial results into treatment but this innovative project shows how people’s creativity can turn a devastating biological agent into an ally to fight or even be a cure for brain cancer.

Original Article

Zhu Z, Gorman MJ, McKenzie LD, Chai JN, Hubert CG, Prager BC, Fernandez E, Richner JM, Zhang R, Shan C, Wang X, Shi P-Y, Diamond MS, Rich JN, Chheda MG. Zika Virus Has Oncolytic Activity against Glioblastoma Stem Cells. The Journal of Experimental Medicine. Sept. 5, 2017.

Further Reading

The Not So Modern Stigma Of Cancer Research: A Scientists View Point

Could The Way Cancer Cells Process Information Affect Brain Tumour Development?

Cancer Care Parcel: What We Do For People Affected By Cancer

Most Recent Cancer Research

We strongly advise you to talk with a health care professional about specific medical conditions and treatments. The information on our site is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice.

Related Posts

I’m Too Healthy To Have Cancer : How Could This Happen To Me?

Eventually, Instead Of Asking - How Could This Happen To Me?- I Realized That Breast Cancer Can Happen To Any Of Us And No One Can Control That Demon.

Read More
Cancer, The Corona Virus And Kindness: Social Distancing Equals Love

The Corona Virus Means That Social Distancing Equates As Love. This Post Raises Important Questions About The Pandemic, Cancer And Being Kind.

Read More
30 Things You Should Know About Living With Cancer

A Cancer Diagnosis Involves Making An Informed Decision. Take Your Time, Follow The Tips In This Article And Allow Yourself Time To Heal.

Read More
Lung Cancer Diagnosis: 10 Important Questions to Ask

Discover The 10 Crucial Questions To Ask After A Lung Cancer Diagnosis. Empower Yourself With Knowledge And Make Informed Decisions About Care And Treatment.

Read More
1 2 3 50

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

One comment on “Science Turns Life-Threatening Zika Virus Into A Cure For Brain Cancer”

Featured products

Sign up for more information
3 Days Of Tips For People With Cancer
3 Days Of Tips To Help You Help Your Friend

Newsletter For
Anyone Touched By Cancer
Sustainability Matters
Every purchase, big or small, has a footprint. But sustainability challenges don’t have a quick fix.
We use a hosting service that is run on 100% renewable electricity from sources like the sun, wind and sea.
We use a fulfillment partner who are fully committed to minimizing their environmental impact.
All our hampers are created in eco-friendly recyclable boxes.
Our printed products are printed-on-demand, creating less waste than conventional manufacturing.
A tree is planted for every product purchased.
Eco Friendly
Cancer Care Parcel Ltd. Registered in England and Wales.
Trading Address: Highstone House, 165 High Street, Barnet, Herts. EN5 5SU, UK. Registered Office: 7a High Street, Barnet, Herts, EN5 5UE.
Company Number 14415197, VAT number is GB428826076,  EORI number is XI428826076000