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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £35 million a year

Zika virus could treat brain tumours

The results of a new study suggest that Zika virus can potentially be used to treat glioblastoma as it has shown to kill brain cancer stem cells.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine tested whether the virus could kill GBM stem cells taken from patients during biopsy.

GBM stem cells are known to be resistant even to aggressive forms of therapy, which is why they are so difficult to treat.

However, what the experiment showed is that after infecting tumours with the virus, it spread through the tumours, infecting and killing the cancer stem cells while largely avoiding other tumour cells or neighbouring healthy cells.

The findings, published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, propose that Zika infection in combination with current therapies have complimentary effects and can be used in future to eradicate the whole tumour.

Cambridge neurosurgeon Harry Bulstrode, who was awarded Brain Tumour Research honour and named Young Investigator of the Year by the British Neuro-Oncology Society, has been investigating this approach to treat brain tumours and is considering a trial of unaltered Zika in the UK.


Further reading:

New Scientist

Medical News Today