AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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Zika Virus Could Be Used to Treat Brain Cancer Patients, Study Suggests

Recent outbreaks of Zika virus have revealed that the virus causes brain defects in unborn children. Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of California, San Diego report that the virus could eventually be used to target and kill cancer cells in the brain.

Glioblastoma is the most common form of brain cancer and is frequently lethal; most patients die within two years of diagnosis. Just like normal, healthy tissues, the growth and development of glioblastomas is driven by stem cells that proliferate and give rise to other tumor cells. Glioblastoma stem cells are hard to kill because they can avoid the body’s immune system and are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation. But killing these cells is vital to prevent new tumors from recurring after the original tumor has been surgically removed.

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