Scientists in Novosibirsk, in Siberia, used lab mice to test a new method of treating brain cancer. They unleashed the Zika virus, a dangerous virus that between 2007 and 2016 spread across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas.
“Researchers at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics (ICG) and virologists from the Vektor State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology decided to find out if cancerous cells in the brain were as attractive a target for the virus as healthy ones. To see that, the team first brought the cells of human glioblastoma (one of the most aggressive brain cancers) into lab mice, and then released the Zika virus there. The results of the first experiments showed how promising the research was,” the Russian news agency TASS quoted the developers as saying.
“We watched the virus attack tumorous cells and slow their growth, leaving the rest of the body virtually intact. The first mice we used had glioblastoma cells injected under their skin; during next experiments, a tumor inserted in the mouse brain directly will be used. If that corroborates the initial results, a new opportunity will open up for the development of a therapeutic strategy to fight brain tumors in the human body,” said Ivan Razumov, a senior researcher at ICG and leading member of the project team.
The scientists emphasized that direct infection of a patient with the virus was not what they wanted. If developed enough to reach preclinical and especially clinical trials, the drug candidate will contain a dose innocuous for the healthy person, like in vaccination.