Zika Virus Treatment : Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial tumor which is responsible for 15 % of all children cancer related deaths. Researchers have shown that zika virus eradicates human neuroblastoma tumor cells from mouse models. But when will such treatment be useful in humans in future?
Zika virus is mosquito borne virus which was first identified in Uganda in 1947. Scientists are now using its ability to fight neuroblastoma as it damages neuroblastoma cells. So the virus can be used for the treatment of cancer.
Study of Zika Virus Treatment of Neuroblastoma
According to Cancer Research Communications Journal, a study published on 9th Jan showed that researchers used zika virus for treating mice who were injected with human neuroblastoma cells. The neuroblastoma showed complete tissue death after injecting with zika virus and the animal showed prolonged survival.
Joseph Mazer, a scientist at Nemours Children Hospital in Orlando, Florida who is first author of the study mentioned the difference was very encouraging. The tumor got eradicated with a single injection and no recurrence later. Lets see how close we are to using the zika virus for treatment of neuroblastoma.
Since 1800 there have been attempts from researchers for using viruses for tumor treatment but after introduction of genetic engineering and lab made DNA, researchers produce viruses which are safer.
At present only 4 viruses approved for the treatment of cancer, for example modified herpes virus approved for the treatment of malignant glioma in Japan, other modified herpes virus is approved for the treatment of advanced melanoma in the United States. There are more such viruses under clinical trials.
Dr. Tamarah Westmoreland, a pediatric surgeon at Nemours Children Hospital determined that as the zika virus attacks immature nerve cells of the developing fetus, it can be used for the treatment of the neuroblastoma for targeting tumor cells.
Neuroblastoma develops from immature nerve cells and it is most commonly seen in tumors in infants. Neuroblastoma has poor survival rates despite intensive treatment.
In the study, scientists took neuroblastoma tumor cells from the high risk neuroblastoma tumor patient and injected it into mice that developed tumors in the hind flank. Then they are injected with unmodified zika virus which results in eradication of the tumor without any recurrence later.
Mice do not suffer from any side effects of the treatment. After the treatment the tumor was totally eradicated with surrounding normal tissue. Neuroblastoma shows high levels of CD 24 protein which causes cellular damage and death caused by zika virus according to the study. This CD24 protein is expressed in many tumors so zika virus treatment will increase possibilities in the future to treat those tumors. Researchers expect human trials in the future.