Zika virus may help fight brain cancer

A new discovery of scientists in the field of medicine could help create new treatments for brain cancer. We are talking about the virus zika, which is distributed with the bite of mosquitoes. This type of virus is known in the world of his mortal danger, as there have not been cases of death because of this disease and the impact on the brain of the unborn fetus. The zika virus is able to penetrate the placenta and cause brain damage in children, if a woman is infected during pregnancy. However, in their new study, scientists have revealed some of the features of this virus that can destroy cancerous cells in the brain.

As the zika virus affects the brain?

Because the virus zika remains poorly studied and its effects on the human body yet little is known, scientists have found a link between the disease and brain development of the fetus. The virus can cause microcephaly in children who were exposed to its effects in the womb of the diseased mother at the stage of embryogenesis. The researchers decided to carefully study the mechanisms of influence on the human brain and conducted a number of studies that have shown that zika virus infiltrates brain cells through a special “key”. This discovery brought researchers to the idea of reprogramming the virus so that it infected only the cancerous brain cells, leaving healthy cells unchanged.

Some types of cancer, such as glioblastoma are aggressive forms, is often not amenable to conventional medical treatment, as the disease turns healthy brain cells into stem cells. Their main advantage is the ability to infinite division, while the brain cells — neurons stop dividing after just a few repetitions.

According to an article published in the journal Cell.com, scientists will need to make modifications to the usual virus in order to make it most safe for healthy brain cells, using the basic principle of cell damage only in tumours.

When the zika virus enters the body of a pregnant woman, and later in the developing embryo, it retards brain development, influencing neural stem cells and delaying their growth. Based on this, scientists conducted a study on mice, during which it became clear that the virus infects Zeke preferably stem cells of glioblastoma compared to normal brain cells. This feature scientists explain the presence of a special receptor — integrins on the surface of the virus, which they use for adhesion to the cells of victims.

With just one type integrins, the experts were able to conduct a detailed study on the vulnerability of glioblastoma to infection Zeke. Because of this, scientists have confirmed the presence of viral “preferences” for brain tumors.

Using the editor gene — CRISPR, researchers selectively “turned off” certain genes from stem glioblastoma cells by exposing tumor cells exposed to the virus, Zeke. In the experiment, the scientists could find a gene-carrier cell information, whereby the zika virus to recognize cancer cells. Found a gene that was named αvβ5, is in large quantities in neural stem cells, which are the primary targets of the virus.