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Genetically modified Zika virus vaccine to treat brain tumour
Researchers injected a live attenuated Zika virus vaccine in mice with glioblastoma or primary brain tumour, which significantly reduced the size of tumours

The recent Zika epidemics in the Americas have caused a global public health emergency, but researchers from China and the U.S. have made another discovery: a Zika virus vaccine they developed can inhibit brain tumor growth.

The ScienceNet.cn reported the new study which had been published earlier by mBio, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

According to the report, the joint study was led by Qin Chengfeng from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in China, Man Jianghong from the National Center of Biomedical Analysis in China and Shi Peiyong from the University of Texas.

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and malignant form of primary brain tumour. Treatment with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy have limited effect, and the recurrence rate is almost 100 percent. The average survival time of patients is about 14 months.

Previous studies found that the GBM stem cells played a key role in the development and recurrence of the fatal brain disease.

In 2017, researchers from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in China and the University of Texas discovered that the Zika virus could infect and kill neural precursor cells and neural stem cells. And then, they developed a genetically modified live attenuated Zika virus vaccine (ZIKV-LAV).

They hypothesised that the Zika virus could also kill GBM stem cells, which have similar properties to neural stem cells.

Researchers injected the ZIKV-LAV into mice, and it did not cause any abnormal behaviours or damage to the brain and other organs, indicating that the vaccine was safe.

Then, they found that the tumour sizes were significantly reduced, and GBM stem cells were infected and killed in the brains of mice. Healthy cells were not harmed.

After further gene analysis, researchers found the mechanism of how the Zika virus works: The virus infection triggered a strong antiviral response, which elicited inflammation that killed GBM stem cells.

In experiments, the Zika virus also prolonged survival time of mice.

Zika virus is spread mostly through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It can be passed on by a pregnant woman to her baby.

According to researchers, the study offers a new treatment for brain tumours, and they plan to work with clinicians to test the efficacy and safety of the vaccine in patients.

Source: Xinhua

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