Zika vaccine shows promise for treating deadly brain cancer
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Washington, DC – September 18, 2018 – An international team of researchers has successfully deployed a Zika virus vaccine to target and kill human glioblastoma brain cancer stem cells, which had been transplanted into mice. In a study published this week in mBio®, an open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the team shows that a live, attenuated version of the Zika virus could form the basis of a new treatment option for this fatal brain cancer.

Glioblastoma kills about 15,000 adults in the US each year and is currently incurable because patients experience a high recurrence rate of their cancer even after the standard treatments of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Scientists suspect this recurrence is due to cancer stem cells, called glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs), which hide out in nearby brain tissue even after the combination of therapies.

“During the Zika epidemic, we learned that the virus preferentially infects neural progenitor cells in the fetus, and causes the devastating microcephaly seen in babies born to infected mothers,” says Pei-Yong Shi, a virologist at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He co-led the current study with tumor biologist Jianghong Man of the National Center of Biomedical Analysis

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