World-class clinical trial involving Canadian viral therapy (ARTICLE)

July 10 / 2015

Dr. John Bell, senior scientist with The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, is one of the Canadian cancer researchers working on an exciting clinical trial involving a combination of two viruses – one that attacks the cancer cells and the second that provides an anti-cancer immune response.

“Here in Ottawa we have pioneered the development of viral therapeutics,” explains Dr. Bell.  “A virus that we are very excited about is the Maraba virus and this is a virus which is designed to directly infect cancer cell and leave normal cells intact.”

In early clinical trial results, scientists have seen dramatic tumour shrinkage responses in a variety of the treated with some of these new viral therapeutics.

“This platform looks to be game-changing in terms of how we treat and manage the disease,” explains Dr. Kelley Parato, researcher at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.  “Patients who have been receiving virus as therapies are not succumbing to the disastrous side-effects experiences with some conventional medications like chemotherapy.  These patients have a flu for 24 hours and then are released home and they go about their daily lives.”

The current clinical trial is expected to enroll up to 79 patients at four hospitals across Canada.  The viral therapy was jointly discovered and is being developed by Dr. David Stojdl (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, University of Ottawa), Dr. Brian Lichty (McMaster University) and Dr. John Bell (The Ottawa Hospital, University of Ottawa), and their research colleagues.

It is research that began more than 15 years ago – work that started thanks in part to a $25,000 grant from the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation on behalf of our donors.

“Over the last five years, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation has granted $4.5 million to Dr. Bell in support of these therapies,” remarks Linda Eagen, president and CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.  “We believe in funding local cancer research to give local families the opportunity to access world-class treatment options.”

The Cancer Foundation has also provided millions of dollars in direct funding to the local Clinical Trials office and the expansion of the Cancer Centres that The Ottawa Hospital and Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre.

To make a donation in support of local cancer research, please click here or contact the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation at 613.247.3527.

For more information please click here for the complete press release.

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