A recent publication in the Journal of Experimental Medicine claims to treat brain cancer by a Zika virus infection. Why such a finding has do be mistrusted?
It sounds like a weird idea to treat a disease by an other one. It is not impossible though, but quite unlikely. For instance diabetes, at least insulin dependency, can be ameliorated by an other disease, by chronic kidney failure. As the kidney destroys native insulin, a shrunken kidney would not, so in diabetics with a residual insulin secretion, it can become sufficient with the development of chronic kidney disease. But cases like this are a rare exceptions in medicine, more common it works the other way around. Usually, a supervening disease make matters much worse.
What about a Zika infection of a brain that has a tumor? Despite tumor research for many decades now it is not known a single case of a virus infection curing a cancer. On the contrary virus infection have been described as cause in many tumors. This is not surprising though. A tumor cell is a just body cell that went out of control. They escape control because of a whole range of somatic mutations. Tumor cells show some common patterns of mutation, for instance often tumor suppressor genes are mutated, but also great variability even among cells from the same tumor. Therefore it is easily imaginable that a virus infection can tip a cell off the balance and make it a tumor cell, but not the other way around.
However, what about just killing the tumor cells specifically, as the research paper claims? Sounds reasonable, in particular because viruses always have some target cells they can infect. These target cells bear specific receptors, so if a tumor cell bears a such a specificity, it can be infected specifically. But the mechanism isn’t such simple.
- The expression of receptors on tumor cells is quite variable.
- The mechanisms by which a virus kills a cell are cell specific as well.
Usually the viruses high-jacks the cell’s specific mechanisms to amplify themselves and to kill the host by apoptosis eventually. These mechanisms might be deranged to a variable degree in tumor cells as well. For instance apoptosis most often is switched off, which is why an individuals own cellular defense system cannot kill these tumor cells themselves, so it seems rather unlikely that a virus can restore a deranged apoptosis, and even if it can succeed in some cells, it is unlikely that it can in all of them. However, if only a small amount of tumor cells survives the tumor attack, these cells will be selected to propagate as in a typical evolutionary process. We already know this phenomenon by the name chemotherapy resistance.
Now, if such a therapy seems to be rather a dubious approach, why is it published in a top-tier journal? The answer is simple if you know just two things.
- The Zika virus is patented by the Rockefeller Foundation (http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-owns-the-zika-virus/5505323).
- The Journal of Experimental Medicine is owned by the Rockefeller foundation as well.
The Rockefeller Foundation would earn a lot by such a therapy, but even if it turns out after some extended research that this therapy doesn’t work at all (as I supposed in the first place), the foundation would earn with every research project. As research projects are mostly publicly funded, many public money would flow into the pockets of lawyers of that foundation, and this in my opinion is the core purpose of this article. The wastage of desperately needed research money.
Again it is not unusual that a foundation sponsors research with an object they have patented, but it make alarmed to scrutinize for any fraud.