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Rituraj Verma*, Madhuri Pandole and Sailesh Narayan


Zika virus used to treat aggressive brain cancer. The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947. The virus, spread by mosquitoes, rarely causes serious problems in adults but it can lead to birth defects, specifically microcephaly (a small, not fully developed head), if a woman contracts the virus when pregnant. The virus has the ability to cross the Blood Brain Barrier. Glioblastoma is hard to eradicate with conventional treatments because the stem cells that drive the growth of the cancer tend to recur after the more developed cancer cells are killed by chemotherapy or removed surgically. Average survival is only two years after diagnosis. Using Zika virus to treat glioblastoma has only been researched in cultured cells and tissue in the laboratory, as well as in mice. Glioblastoma is a highly lethal brain cancer that frequently recurs in proximity to the original resection cavity. We explored the use of oncolytic virus therapy against glioblastoma with Zika virus (ZIKV), a flavivirus that induces cell death and differentiation of neural precursor cells in the developing fetus. ZIKV preferentially infected and killed glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) relative to differentiated tumor progeny or normal neuronal cells. The effects against GSCs were not a general property of neurotropic flaviviruses, as West Nile virus indiscriminately killed both tumor and normal neural cells. ZIKV potently depleted patient-derived GSCs grown in culture and in organoids.

Keywords: Zika Virus (ZIKV), Glioblastoma stems cells (GSCs), Microencephaly, , neurotropic flaviviruses, Chemotherapy.

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