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Ottawa researchers discover new cancer-fighting virus

January 24, 2012

Dr. John Bell and his team have discovered a novel cancer-fighting virus called ORF virus. This virus is known to cause skin infections in goats and sheep, but it does not typically infect humans and does not cause serious disease when it does. ORF virus is particularly attractive as an oncolytic virus because it stimulates the host immune system in unique ways and has a unique ability to replicate in wounds, which have some similarities to tumours. In a paper published in Molecular Therapy, Dr. Bell and his team show that ORF virus can exert powerful anti-tumour effects in a number of mouse models of cancer, and in human cancer cells in culture.

This research was supported by the Terry Fox Foundation, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé and the Health Research Council of New Zealand.