ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- Who would have thought that Zika, the virus which causes brain damage in developing babies, could also treat brain cancer?
The Journal of Experimental Medicine just published a study from researchers who have found that Zika injections reduce the size of cancerous tumors, but leave the surrounding brain cells unaffected.
You probably know mosquitoes carry Zika. If a pregnant woman gets bit, it can lead to serious birth defects because the virus attacks stems cells which are abundant in a developing fetus. Stem cells are not prevalent in adult brains. But they are inside brain tumors, especially Glioblastoma.
Each year in the United States, about 12,000 people are diagnosed with Glioblastoma. Highly resistant to traditional forms of treatment, it`s often fatal within two years. Because this deadly cancer stems from stem cells, scientists thought to target their line of attack using the Zika virus as ammunition.
So far, researchers have been successful injecting mice tumors with Zika. According to Michael Diamond, MD, PhD who co-authored the study, results are so promising, he hopes to start human trials in less than two years.
Zika! The same virus that sparked fear in pregnant women everywhere! Now that's what you call a silver lining!