Scientists Weaponize Virus In Hopes To Fight Cancer

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can cure pediatric cancer, according to scientists.

One in seven children who die from cancer are children with neuroblastomas, a kind of cancer that develops in nerve cells during development. The virus lowers protein levels that build up excessively in people with certain tumors.

Dr. Matthew Davis of Florida’s Nemours Children’s Health led a study demonstrating how the Zika virus may eradicate neuroblastoma tumors in mice. These tumors originate in nerve cells throughout infancy and account for one out of every seven cancer deaths in children. These brain tumors have persisted for more than 40 years without a cure.

Adults are not immune to neuroblastoma, which may develop in fetal or juvenile cells. Zika virus targets the developmental protein CD24, and this research used mice with neuroblastoma tumors that produce high amounts of CD24. After four weeks, the mice with the greatest dose of Zika showed no signs of tumor recurrence and had eliminated their tumors.

Nevertheless, the group did note that more research is needed to establish the safety of utilizing Zika as a cancer treatment. The researchers want to proceed with more experiments before conducting clinical trials. Further validation is required to determine the efficacy of the Zika virus as a bridge treatment for high-risk neuroblastoma and other malignancies that exhibit high levels of CD24 in both children and adults.

About 700 to 800 instances of neuroblastoma are reported annually, and they primarily affect children less than five years old. Neuroblastoma has an 80% five-year survival rate in children less than 14 years old, while only 50% in cases where the cancer is more aggressive manage to beat the odds.

Transmission of the Zika virus occurs via bites from infected mosquitoes, unprotected intercourse, and the offspring of infected mothers. Severe birth malformations may occur if pregnant women get it, and there is now no medication that can treat or prevent it.

The areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America where the Zika virus is most prevalent are tropical. Rio de Janeiro, the capital of Brazil, saw an epidemic of the virus in 2016, which caused some to question if the 2016 Olympic Games would be held as scheduled.