Could the Zika virus be used to treat glioblastomas?

Friday 26 May 2017

The University of Cambridge is to begins trials using the Zika virus on glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain tumour. Glioblastomas affect 2,200 people in the UK each year

The attribute that makes Zika so dangerous to the development of the brains of babies is precisely what opens the possibility of its use as a brain tumour treatment.

The Zika virus is able to pass through the blood-brain barrier, a trait scientists are hoping to harness for the delivery of cancer fighting drugs.

Dr Harry Bulstrode, a Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Cambridge, told The Telegraph: “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.

“We hope to show that the Zika virus can slow down brain tumour growth in tests in the lab.

“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."

The hope is that future treatments using the Zika virus may be able to target the tumour without damaging healthy brain cells.

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