Researchers from Washington University of St. Louis recently published a paper in the Journal of Experimental Medicine outlining how the Zika virus can be used to treat brain tumors.
Because of the severe brain damage the virus has been found to cause in fetuses, the researchers "theorized that it might be able to infect stem cells in brain tumors," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
To prove their theory, the researchers developed a "designer" version of the virus that wouldn't overwhelm a healthy immune system, but that would also attack the brain tumor. The team tested their theory on glioblastoma stem cells that had been removed from the patients.
"The virus killed the cells, proving more effective than traditional treatments, according to the researchers. The method also worked on mice with brain tumors, which lived longer than rodents treated with a placebo," the New York Post reported.
"We take a virus, learn how it works and then we leverage it," microbiologist Dr. Michael Diamond said of the study according to the New York Post. "Let's take advantage of what it's good at, use it to eradicate cells we don't want. Take viruses that would normally do some damage and make them do some good."