Zika has prompted a global health emergency, but it turns out the virus may have a silver lining. It turns out, Zika is an effective killer of brain cancer.
Spread by infected mosquitos, Zika caused something of a panic in 2015, when cases of microcephaly – a condition where the circumference of the skull is smaller than needed, thereby impairing brain function – was reported in infants. Microcephaly resulted from the Zika viruses’ targeting of developing brain cells in utero. Since the virus focuses in on young brain cells, the virus may also be an effective treatment for glioblastoma, a deadly form of adult brain cancer.
Zika seems to attack the cells that grow to cause glioblastoma, but leaves mature brain cells unharmed. The research was presented in September’s Journal of Experimental Medicine and concluded that Zika extended the life of lab mice with brain tumors and killed tumor cells in human brain tissue in the lab.
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