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Ottawa Cancer Scientist, Dr. John Bell, recipient of one of the largest grants ever awarded by Terry Fox Foundation to lead a project to treat cancer patients with viruses.

What: More than $2 million awarded to Ottawa Cancer Scientist to lead groundbreaking research using viruses that have been proven to attack cancer cells.

Who: Dr. John Bell, a scientist in cancer research at the OHRI, Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Ottawa and Career Scientist at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre. Dr. Bell was named third most influential person in Canada in an online readers' poll published in Maclean's Magazine in 2003.

When: The Grant has been awarded over a three year stretch, beginning in 2004.

Where: The project will unite leading researchers from around Canada

Dr. John Bell, whose research has inspired tremendous hope in the fight against cancer, was awarded more than $2 million to be the lead investigator in a new project with Oncolytic viruses - viruses that kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched.

His work has been featured in leading publications and was highlighted by the American Cancer Society. The project to be funded by The Terry Fox Foundation aims to unite several Canadian research groups who are developing "cancer killing viruses". By working together, the groups from London, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa are maximizing their results to get potential treatments to patients more quickly. Dr. Bell and this new research consortium will work together on different viruses to determine which is best for certain kinds of cancer, and will begin studies in cancer patients to learn how best to give these viruses and at what doses.

"The work Dr. Bell is doing is quite remarkable," noted Martha McClew, Provincial Director of the Terry Fox Foundation. "I am personally thrilled that he is the recipient of one of the largest grants we have contributed. I think that in relative terms, Canada has a small but growing research community and the work that is being done here is on par, if not more advanced, than anywhere else in the world. Dr. Bell is a shining beacon of that work."

Dr. Bell and his research team have found that the VSV virus effectively attacks and destroys cancer cells in mice while leaving other cells untouched. Experiments conducted on human cells in the laboratory have had equally promising results.

"The funding that we are receiving from The Terry Fox Foundation will be instrumental in further developing this promising area of research," said Dr. Bell. "This grant brings together some of Canada's top scientists in the field of Oncolytic Viruses and will help us work co-operatively to ensure that the results of our work in the laboratory will be safely and quickly tested in the clinic. "

Dr. Ronald Worton, CEO of the OHRI - the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and a partner with the University of Ottawa - was very pleased for the OHRI to be taking a leading role in this important study.

"Dr. Bell is leading a very promising avenue of research that has tremendous potential against several forms of cancer, providing great hope for innovative treatments," he said.

For more information please contact:

Allison Neill
Manager, Communications
Regional Cancer Program
The Ottawa Hospital
613-737-7700 ext. 56171


Nathalie Trepanier
Communications Manager
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 ext. 19691

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