Harold Wilson is sometimes accredited with coining the phrase ‘A week is a long time in politics.’ The same could equally apply to the medical world.
The build up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was dominated by fears and uncertainty, the route cause of which was the multiple cases of the Zika virus and the increased levels of microcephaly in babies due to this infection. The health risks for both athletes and spectators alike were widely broadcast, based upon a mixture of fear and factual and scientific evidence. In the event, the Olympics passed without incident, but the Zika threat remained real.
It was therefore with some surprise that earlier this September, news broke of an astonishing scientific discovery, casting a whole new light on the Zika virus. It brought with it hope of a breakthrough which might provide scientists with the intelligence needed to cure one of the most dangerous illnesses out there. Indeed, Scientists discovered that the destructive nature of the Zika virus may potentially be an unexpected ally in the relentless battle against adult brain cancer.
Early tests have been carried out on mice with brain tumours. Unlike other more traditional forms of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, injecting the mice with the Zika virus, revealed a shrinking of the tumour, but importantly left the remaining brain cells unharmed.
This startling discovery has given scientists the confidence to now consider human tests, which are expected to begin in 2019. This provides fresh hope for the estimated 16,700 adults who are expected to die each year from brain and CNS tumours.