Glioblastomas, in particular, are relentless and hard to treat. And while the world has its attention fixated on coronavirus, researchers at Yale University have released new preclinical data showing that one of the world’s deadliest viruses can be used to fight brain tumors. The researchers—showing that elements of the Ebola virus were effective at treating glioblastoma in mice—published their data recently in the Journal of Virology through an article entitled “Mucin-like domain of Ebola virus glycoprotein enhances selective oncolytic actions against brain tumors.”
The new approach takes advantage of a weakness in most tumors and of an Ebola defense against the immune system response to pathogens. Unlike normal cells, a large percentage of cancer cells lack the ability to generate an innate immune response against invaders such as viruses. This has led cancer researchers to explore the use of viruses to combat a variety of cancers.
While using viruses such as Ebola carries an obvious risk—as they can introduce potentially dangerous infections—the research team circumvented this problem by creating chimeric viruses, or a combination of genes from multiple viruses. Chimeras have the ability to target cancer cells without harming patients.