World renown motivational speaker Nick Vujicic was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, he was born without limbs. This meant that Nick would have to struggle with everyday task. Throughout his childhood, Nick antagonised his disability.
When the Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic of 2015-2016 struck the world, researchers united to find a cure. Zika virus, spread by Aedes mosquito bites and sex, is not deadly in an adult. But if a pregnant woman gets ZIKV, it does the unimaginable, attacking her unborn child’s brain, causing microcephaly (incomplete brain development), leaving the child intellectually disabled. There can be no good in such viruses, can there?
Some beg to differ. On the 5th of September, in a triumph for medicine, The Journal of Experimental Medicine revealed that researches subjected glioblastoma cells (glioma is a type of cancer in the brain) in various tissue samples with ZIKV. Miraculously, the virus had replicated in certain glioblastoma cells, stopping its division, leaving ordinary neural tissue cultures largely uninfected. ZIKV could potentially treat glioblastoma patients.
What does this mean for pharmacist? Perhaps we need to start changing our perception of diseases. Nick Vijucic did not let his disability leave him distraught; he used it to motivate others. He took control of it, making him an inspiration to all. Perhaps we could explore different ways to advance medicine. As this study shows, we might start taking advantage of our enemies, turning them into allies, progressing medicine for humanity.
Written by Jeremy Ng Yung Ern