From Washington University in St. Louis
March 24, 2021
The Zika virus that ravaged the Americas, leaving many babies with permanent brain damage, may have a silver lining. The virus can activate immune cells to destroy an aggressive brain cancer in mice, giving a powerful boost to an immunotherapy drug and sparking long-lasting immunological memory that can ward off tumor recurrence for at least 18 months, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The findings, available online in the journal JCI Insight, suggest Zika virus might be a key to unlocking the power of immunotherapy for glioblastoma, a lethal brain cancer that typically results in death within two years. Immunotherapy aims to turn the body’s own immune system into a weapon to eliminate cancer cells. The approach has proven effective for blood, skin and some other cancers, but it has so far shown limited benefit for glioblastoma patients.