The risks of Zika virus infection, which are responsible for silent disease, including numerous cases of microcephaly in children, are already known. Now UNICAMP researchers are studying how this virus can be useful for the human body, for example, in the fight against tumors.
Led by Rodrigo University professor Ramos Katarino, researchers have discovered that this agent may be an agent against prostate cancer. Through experiments conducted with the virus in vitroScientists realized that Zika can inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells even after inactivation at high temperatures, as reported in an article in the journal Scientific Reports,
“The next step in the investigation is animal testing. If the results are positive, we intend to partner with companies to conduct clinical trials, ”says Katarino. If proven in animals, the discovery will open the way for new research and various therapeutic applications for the virus.
In 2015, researchers began to understand how the virus can be used when a direct relationship was found between the Zika epidemic and the increase in cases of microcephaly in the Northeast. Studies then showed that this virus infects and destroys nerve progenitor cells, those in developing embryos that give rise to various types of brain cells.
Based on these data, Katarino and the UNICAMP research team tested Zika virus for the most common and aggressive type of cancer of the central nervous system in adults, glioblastoma, with positive results found in the laboratory. These responses have also been successfully repeated in animal models.
“Since sexually transmitted Zika virus and the virus’s preference for reproductive cells were also confirmed, we decided to test its effect on prostate cancer,” explained Jani Delafiori, a doctoral student led by Katarino.
In a new UNICAMP study, Zika virus was heated and inactivated at high temperatures to suppress its ability to cause infection. Despite this, it had an inhibitory effect on cancer. The researchers' analysis also showed 21 markers that could describe how the virus affects the metabolism of tumor cells and inhibits their proliferation.
Source: Fapes Agency