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Zika virus kills brain cancer cells - study
The Zika virus, which is spread my mosquitoes, causes serious birth defects.
Findings may be used to treat fatal disease 

A study by US researchers has revealed that Zika virus can kill brain cancer stem cells - the type of cells that are most resistant to standard treatment.

Their findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggest that Zika virus - which causes serious birth defects in humans - could be directed at malignant cells in the brain.

Researchers say their findings have the potential to improve people’s chances against glioblastoma - the most common form of primary brain tumour in adults.

“We showed that Zika virus can kill the kind of glioblastoma cells that tend to be resistant to current treatments and lead to death,” explained co-author Michael Diamond, a professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine.

In the study, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine assessed if the virus could kill stem cells in glioblastomas removed from patients at diagnosis.

Their findings suggest that Zika infection and chemotherapy/radiotherapy compliment each other. While the standard treatment kills the majority of the tumour cells but often leads the stem cells intact, Zika virus attacks the stem cells but bypasses the greater part of the tumour.

“We see Zika one day being used in combination with current therapies to eradicate the whole tumour,” said Chheda, an assistant professor of medicine and neurology.

To see if Zika could be used to treat cancer in a living animal, the researchers injected either Zika virus or salt water (a placebo) into the brain tumours of mice. They found that tumours were markedly smaller in the Zika treated mice two weeks after injection, and those mice survived much longer than the ones injected with salt water.

Researchers say that if Zika virus was to be used in humans, it would have to be injected straight into the brain. If injected anywhere else in the body, the immune system would destroy it before it reaches the brain.

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Scheme to protect wildlife and reduce flooding

News Story 1
 Natural England has announced a new scheme to improve flood protection, boost wildlife and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh. The £6 million scheme in Lancashire will effectively unite the RSPB’s Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural England’s Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. The completed reserve will be the largest site of its kind in the north of England. 

News Shorts
Welfare event to discuss ethical dilemmas faced by vets

Students and ethics experts will host an event on the difficult moral challenges facing vets. Ethical issues, such as euthanasia and breeding animals for certain physical traits, will be discussed by prominent speakers including TV vet Emma Milne and RSPCA chief vet James Yeates. Other topics will include how to tackle suspected animal abuse and the extent of surgical intervention.

The conference will look at how these dilemmas affect the wellbeing of vets, and explore how to better prepare veterinary students for work. It will be held at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus from 30 September - 1 October 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.