Zika virus to be tested as a cure against brain tumours

Funded by Cancer Research UK, the study aims to reveal that the mosquito-carried virus could effectively treat brain cancer.

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University of Cambridge‘s Dr Harry Bulstrode and his team will test Zika virus on glioblastoma, a type of brain tumour that is said to be the most common and aggressive across the world, to see if the virus can treat this cancer.

In England, approximately 2,300 people are diagnosed with glioblastoma and the survival rate is less than five per cent. According to Science Daily, with the use of tumour cells tested in mice, the research will be able to identify if the virus can actually destroy cells.

Dr Harry Bulstrode, a Cancer Research UK scientist, said: “Zika virus infection in babies and children is a major global health concern, and the focus has been to discover more about the virus to find new possible treatments. We’re taking a different approach, and want to use these new insights to see if the virus can be unleashed against one of the hardest to treat cancers.”

The current treatment is not able to cross what scientists call a blood-brain barrier, which is necessary to treat brain tumour cells. The Zika virus, however, is able to do so and can target cancer cells directly.

“We hope to show that the Zika virus can slow down brain tumour growth in tests in the lab,” explained Bulstrode If we can learn lessons from Zika’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and target brain stem cells selectively, we could be holding the key to future treatments.”

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