Until now the Zika virus has only been seen as a global health threat but USA researchers have used it as a target therapy for glioblastoma, the most fatal form of brain tumour.
The Zika virus is known to target and destroy neuroprogenitors, which is why infected babies are often born with tiny, malformed heads.
The Zika virus, which is known to cause devastating damage to the brains of developing fetuses, may be an effective treatment for a deadly form of brain cancer. But when the team tested the virus on normal brain cells it did not infect them, said the findings in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
About 12,000 people are diagnosed with glioblastomas each year in the United States.
Infant brains have far more stem cells, specifically neuroprogenitor cells, than adult brains, which may explain why the treatment is so promising for adult cancer patients. However, they have also injected the Zika treatment into human brain cells at the laboratory. However, the most recent research, in living mice and gave human mind tissue tests, demonstrates Zika treatment can kill cells that have the tendency to be impervious to other medical treatment. These stem cells resemble those found in brain tumours.
"This study is very exciting". "By modifying the virus genetically, we will make hit more sensitive to the body's natural immune defense system, however, cancer stem cells lack this defense". As expected, the mouse-adapted Zika virus infected and held back glioma cell growth, without affecting differentiated central nervous system cells.
For the study the researchers described the effects of the virus on glioblastoma cells in both human tissue samples and mice.
However, if the treatment is actually applied to humans in the future, the virus would have to be injected directly into the patient's brain during surgery to remove the primary tumor. Two weeks after injection, tumors in the mice that received Zika were significantly smaller than the control.
It is believed that these glioblastoma undifferentiated cells proceed to develop and separate, delivering new tumor cells even after forceful restorative treatment.
The researchers acknowledge that we don't yet know how Zika virus strains will act on patient-derived GSCs in vivo.
The study's experiments were conducted on mice with tumors. But this now needs testing in further studies.
When a post-doctoral researcher first suggested the idea of using Zika to treat glioblastoma, Diamond admits that he was hesitant.
Researcher Dr Michael Diamond said: "Once we add a few more changes, I think it's going to be impossible for the virus to overcome them and cause disease". However, Zika virus does not typically cause significant problems in adults. "These findings have provided clues that we are following to understand why this process is selective, which may direct the development of an improved modified virus".
"Using viruses that target the brain, to do this had some element of risk". Encouragingly, the virus seemed to stop the cells from proliferating.