DEC 05, 2018 9:00 AM PST

Zika virus as a weapon against brain cancer

WRITTEN BY: Heba El Wassef

Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of Brain Cancer, with an average survival rate of fewer than two years with treatment. So what if there could be a cure for this type of cancer.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston led by geneticist Pei-Yong Shi successfully used a Zika virus vaccine to target and kill glioblastoma in mice, the research was published in MBio

Zika virus was identified in Uganda in 1947, it is spread by mosquito bites and causes fever, rash, joint pain, and it can be passed from pregnant women to their fetus causing a condition called microcephaly where the fetal brain does not fully develop.

Zika virus causes microcephaly by attacking stem cells in the fetal brain, on the other hand, Glioblastoma affects glial cells in the brain which are similar to fetal stem cells that Zika attacks. These observations led the scientists to try to develop altered Zika vaccine that attacks cancerous glial cells instead of brain stem cells.

The study showed that Zika vaccine shrunk the tumor size in mice suffering from glioblastoma without any neurological damage.

This research gives hope in finding a cure for glioblastoma.

Sources: Youtube, UTMB

About the Author
  • A master student in Biochemistry and Molecular biology with experience in Education and Research. I am passionate about scientific research and passing my knowledge to others to help them learn about the latest in science by teaching, writing and volunteering in scientific events.
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