UTMB adapts Zika vaccine to fight brain cancer
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GALVESTON, Texas – Researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have successfully harnessed a Zika virus vaccine under development to target and kill the brain cancer known as glioblastoma. The findings are currently available in MBio.

The Zika virus can cause microcephaly, a condition where the fetal brain doesn’t fully develop when a pregnant woman is infected with the virus. In contrast, glioblastoma dangerously multiplies brain cells into cancerous tumors. The altered Zika vaccine effectively targeted and destroyed the cancerous brain cells in mice but not healthy cells.

“These findings represent major progress toward developing the Zika vaccine as a safe and effective virotherapeutic treatment for human glioblastoma,” said UTMB’s Pei-Yong Shi, professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Glioblastoma is the deadliest and most common type of brain tumor. Despite surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, glioblastoma has a high rate of return with an average survival of less than two years. The late Sen. John McCain’s battle with glioblastoma has drawn into sharp focus how aggressive this form of brain cancer can be.

Glioblastoma is a cancer of the glial cells enmeshed throughout the brain that provide structure, nutrition and oxygen for the nerve

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