MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Milan G. Chheda, MD
Department of Medicine
Department of Neurology
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Glioblastoma is an extremely aggressive brain tumor. Most patients die in less than two years. A longstanding challenge has been killing tumor cells that are inherently resistant to our current therapies (radiation and chemotherapy). These cells, called cancer stem cells, are extremely hardy. A longstanding dream of oncologists has been to devise a way to find them and kill them. The public health epidemic in 2015 made Zhe Zhu, post-doctoral fellow in Jeremy Rich’s lab, wonder whether Zika virus could work on cancer stem cells, that share properties with stem cells in fetal brain. Zika virus doesn’t cause significant problems in adults.
We took a lesson from nature and tested Zika virus.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: Zika virus specifically targets cancer stem cells.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t tend to injure the rest of the brain cells, and remains in the tumor.
It significantly extends the lives of mice with brain tumors.
This is a first step in developing a targeted bullet against otherwise resistant cancer stem cells.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We are focused on making this potential therapy even safer. We are generating new strains of the virus that have mutations that make this therapy even safer. We have clues as to why the therapy is specifically targeting the cancer stem cells. We are trying to better understand these mechanisms.
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