AUG 14, 2018 11:10 PM PDT

Can Zika Virus Help Neuroblastoma Patients?

WRITTEN BY: Mauri Brueggeman

The Zika virus became a household topic in 2015 and 2016 when infection rates skyrocketed in South America and the disease spread to parts of North America very suddenly.  Zika was discovered in a rhesus monkey living in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947.  The virus is spread by the Aedes africanus mosquito; the first record of human infection was in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania.  In early 2015, pregnant women infected by the virus began giving birth to children with certain birth defects including microcephaly.  In children and non-pregnant adults, Zika virus infection is most often asymptomatic or only mildly noted.

Researchers have been looking at viruses as possible tools for use in oncological therapies for decades and some recent literature has shown great promise for the effects a virus can have on certain cancers.  Zika has not yet been identified as a possible oncolytic agent until now.

Researchers in Florida recently published a study in evaluating the use of Zika virus as a potential oncolytic therapy for human Neuroblastoma.  The study aim was to examine the characteristics particular to this virus and if those affected neuroblastoma tumor cells.  According to the research group, “Neuroblastoma has been shown to be responsive to infection.”  They furthered that knowledge by positively demonstrating that Zika virus easily infects neuroblastoma cells.  In conjunction with these efforts, the authors noted an unexpected difference in response by one cell line and further investigated.  All tumor cells lines evaluated were susceptible to Zika, save this one.  They found a link between cellular expression levels of CD24 and permissiveness of Zika into those cells. 

CD24, or cluster of differentiation 24, is a cell surface receptor normally found on hematopoietic and neuronal cells.  The gene for CD24 is located on chromosome 6.  CD24 is expressed at higher levels in progenitor and what are known as metabolically active cells or fast-growing cells.  Not too surprisingly, CD24 is highly overexpressed in cancers. 

The results of the Florida study draw some interesting conclusions that promote the possibility of using this particular virus against neuroblastoma cells in vivo.  Knowing that CD24 is highly expressed in rapidly growing cells as well as neuronal cells points toward a reason why infection with Zika during pregnancy can so dramatically affect an unborn fetus, depending on their development timeline, yet have mild symptoms in an infected adult.  Therapeutic approaches using Zika would use the virus to target those CD24 expressing cells and the virus would follow its normal disease progression in already developed individuals with CD24 positive tumors.  Zika’s own infectious process destroys its host cells, therefore destroying tumor cells. 

 

Sources: PLOS one, CDC, WHO, Cellular & Molecular Immunology,

About the Author
  • Mauri S. Brueggeman is a Medical Laboratory Scientist and Educator with a background in Cytogenetics and a Masters in Education from the University of Minnesota. She has worked in the clinical laboratory, taught at the University of Minnesota, and been in post secondary healthcare education administration. She is passionate about advances and leadership in science, medicine, and education.
You May Also Like
JUL 11, 2020
Cancer
New drug combo could improve immunotherapy for SCCOHT ovarian cancer
JUL 11, 2020
New drug combo could improve immunotherapy for SCCOHT ovarian cancer
Research published recently in PLOS ONE reports on SP-2577, a drug that could help girls and young women plagued with a ...
JUL 20, 2020
Cancer
Fighting Cancer with Black Pepper
JUL 20, 2020
Fighting Cancer with Black Pepper
In the never-ending search for the next treatment or cure, many researchers turn towards nature. The study of black pepp ...
JUL 27, 2020
Cancer
Identifying Tumor Cells in the Blood with Artificial Intelligence
JUL 27, 2020
Identifying Tumor Cells in the Blood with Artificial Intelligence
Cancer diagnostics is an area of keen interest in the fight against cancer. Cancer often slips by routine checkups and v ...
JUL 30, 2020
Cancer
Researchers say DBT doesn't serve women with "extremely dense" breasts
JUL 30, 2020
Researchers say DBT doesn't serve women with "extremely dense" breasts
When you undergo screening for breast cancer, you usually have to have a mammogram, an x-ray that looks for abnormal mas ...
AUG 05, 2020
Cancer
A New Test to Analyze Cell-Free DNA in Cancer Diagnostics
AUG 05, 2020
A New Test to Analyze Cell-Free DNA in Cancer Diagnostics
Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) are small pieces of genomic DNA that have escaped into the bloodstream either through active relea ...
AUG 11, 2020
Immunology
Study Reveals the Two Sides of an Immune Molecule
AUG 11, 2020
Study Reveals the Two Sides of an Immune Molecule
Scientists have discovered a key protein that regulates the immune system to fight off infections. Fascinatingly, the pr ...
Loading Comments...