Bell Lab

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John Bell, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS
613 737-7700 70333

501 Smyth Road, Box 926
Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6

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The Ottawa Hospital’s new campus to become a hub for biotherapeutics research and manufacturing thanks to $59M grant
May 6, 2024 - The Ottawa Hospital is receiving $59 million to boost Canada’s capacity to develop and manufacture life-saving biotherapeutics, including vaccines, gene therapies and cell therapies.
Beyond the spike: novel COVID vaccine candidate targets 7 viral proteins for strong immune response
November 2, 2023 - Despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in many countries, SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread and make people sick and new variants remain a significant threat. Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa believe ...
Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital awarded 13 CIHR grants worth more than $7 million
July 21, 2023 - Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are playing a lead role in 13 new projects awarded more than $7 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Next-generation cancer-fighting viruses could be fine-tuned with a pill
June 2, 2023 - Cancer-fighting (oncolytic) viruses can infect and kill cancer cells without harming normal tissues, while also delivering therapeutic / toxic genes to tumours and stimulating an anti-cancer immune response.
Bringing cellular immunotherapy to solid tumours: made-in-Canada approach to be pioneered in biliary tract cancers thanks to $7.4M grant
April 13, 2023 - Canadians with biliary tract cancer (cholangiocarcinoma and gallbladder) will have the first chance to benefit from a new made-in-Canada approach to personalized cellular immunotherapy, thanks to a $7.4 million grant from the Canadian Cancer ...
Potential colorectal cancer treatment combines immunotherapy and viral therapy in a powerful new way
February 16, 2023 - Immunotherapy is revolutionizing the treatment of many kinds of cancer, but for colorectal cancer, success has been limited to patients with rare genetic mutations. To tackle this challenge, researchers at The Ottawa Hospital engineered a new ...
Canadian-Led Immunotherapies in Cancer (CLIC) program inspires innovative CAR-T trial in Denmark
December 8, 2022 - CAR-T therapy is a groundbreaking cancer treatment that involves genetically engineering a patient’s own immune cells to attack their cancer. While this therapy is commercially available in many countries, cancer researchers are also developing ...
Fireflies help researcher shine a light on COVID-19
November 2, 2022 - As a child watching fireflies in northern Iran, Dr. Taha Azad never dreamed he would someday use the secret behind their glow to help fight cancer and a global pandemic.
Anti-fungal drug shows promise against COVID-19 in lab studies
August 18, 2022 - Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital have discovered that a common anti-fungal drug can protect against COVID-19 in laboratory models. The drug, called bifonazole, blocks the interaction between the viral spike protein and its cell-surface receptor ...
First made-in-Canada CAR-T cell therapy for cancer shows promise in clinical trial
June 17, 2022 - More than a dozen people with cancer who had exhausted all treatment options are alive and cancer-free today thanks to a pioneering Canadian clinical trial of a highly personalized kind of immunotherapy.
Cancer-fighting viruses soften up their victims before attacking
April 7, 2022 - A research team based at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa has developed a virus that infects and kills cancer cells without harming normal cells, while also sending out signals to prepare nearby uninfected cancer cells for viral ...
Personalized anti-cancer vaccine shows promise in mice
January 28, 2022 - Treatments for cancer are becoming increasingly personalized, not just to a type of cancer, but even to an individual patient. A new study successfully applies this strategy in a new way in mouse models.
Made-in-Ottawa vaccine could help in global fight against COVID-19, including new variants
December 13, 2021 - As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the world, a vaccine developed and manufactured at The Ottawa Hospital could provide a unique approach to help control the pandemic. Unlike the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved by the World ...
One small step for blood cancer patients, one giant step for Canadian cancer patients of all stripes
February 25, 2021 - The Canadian-Led Immunotherapies in Cancer (CLIC) research program is building Canada’s capacity for innovation in CAR-T therapy, with support from BioCanRx, The Ottawa Hospital, BC Cancer and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Vaccines and viral immunotherapies: unique Canadian program provides training to manufacture biotherapeutics
November 21, 2020 - As COVID-19 highlights the urgent need to increase vaccine manufacturing around the world, a unique training program is bolstering Canada’s capacity to manufacture vaccines, as well as viral immunotherapies for cancer and other emerging ...
$1M grant to support manufacturing of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines at The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa
November 6, 2020 - Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa have been awarded $1,050,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to support facilities for manufacturing innovative treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
From “what if” to “what is”
October 9, 2020 - What if you could deliver just one product, in this case one cancer-killing (or oncolytic) virus, to any kind of cancer and have that virus turn into something customized to kill one particular cancer –your own.
The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa launch new cancer immunotherapy research projects with funding from BioCanRx
September 22, 2020 - BioCanRx, Canada’s Immunotherapy Network, today announced funding of $10M for 14 cancer immunotherapy research projects and eight core and biomanufacturing facilities across the country. Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) and the University ...
Harnessing cancer-fighting viruses to develop a COVID-19 vaccine
June 25, 2020 - Drs. Carolina Ilkow, John Bell and colleagues are harnessing their expertise in making oncolytic (cancer-fighting) viruses to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, in partnership with scientists and clinicians in Canada and around the world.
The Ottawa Hospital awarded $4.7 million for COVID-19 research from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
June 25, 2020 - Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, have been awarded $4.7 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for four research projects that could transform our understanding of COVID-19 and ...
Cancer-killing viruses provide inspiration for COVID-19 vaccine
April 28, 2020 - While physical distancing has slowed the spread of COVID-19, the vast majority of people around the world remain susceptible to the virus. That’s why most experts believe we won’t be able to fully find a new normal until a vaccine is developed. ...
Researchers join the fight against COVID-19
April 2, 2020 - As hospitals and communities band together to fight COVID-19, researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are harnessing their unique expertise and resources to help.
Could biotherapeutics be the next revolution in cancer treatment?
February 20, 2020 - From helping the body’s own immune system better detect and fight cancer, to treating cancer with immune cells, viruses and vaccines, The Ottawa Hospital is conducting cutting-edge research that could transform cancer care right here at home and ...
Viral therapy for cancer: Frequently asked questions from patients and families
October 1, 2019 - What is viral therapy for cancer? Viral therapy for cancer, also called oncolytic viral therapy or viral immunotherapy, makes use of viruses to treat cancer.
Dr. John Bell wins public and patient engagement award
April 15, 2019 - Dr. John Bell won the inaugural European Society for Gene and Cell Therapy Public and Patient Engagement Award.
Patients and clinical trial experts key to upcoming made-in-Canada CAR-T clinical trial
March 1, 2019 - Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa are known around the world for their expertise in designing and leading clinical trials, and they're now applying this knowledge to create a made-in-Canada approach for CAR-T ...
Often-overlooked Natural Killer cells may be key to cancer immunotherapy
September 10, 2018 - Immune checkpoint inhibitors are revolutionizing the treatment of cancer, but new research challenges the central dogma of how these drugs work. This research, published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Investigation, shows for the first ...
Top Research Papers from The Ottawa Hospital 2015-2017
June 7, 2018 - Did you know that researchers at The Ottawa Hospital publish an average of four new scientific papers every single day? Our research is advancing science and improving health on a massive scale – both at home and around the world. The list below ...
MS drug makes cancer-fighting viruses more effective in lab models
February 7, 2018 - A drug used to treat multiple sclerosis and psoriasis can dramatically enhance the spread of cancer-fighting viruses in human tumour samples and animal models, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine. A team led by Dr. Jean
Could viruses take cancer immunotherapy to the next level? Study shows viruses and checkpoint inhibitors work together to cure resistant breast cancer in mice
January 3, 2018 - Immunotherapy, which helps the body’s immune system attack cancer, has revolutionized treatment for cancers such as melanoma and leukemia. However, many other kinds of cancer remain resistant. A new study led by researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and
Dr. John Bell receives top award from Canadian Cancer Research Alliance
October 30, 2017 - The Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) announced today that Dr. John Bell is receiving the Outstanding Achievements in Cancer Research Award for his “pioneering work and ground-breaking scientific discoveries, which have propelled the entire fi
CFI provides $18-million boost to research on neuromuscular diseases, cancer-fighting viruses, the power of light and radioactive atoms
October 12, 2017 - The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has awarded $18 million in funding to support cutting-edge research led by four teams from The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa. “The innovation made possible by this infrastructure support
Ontario start-up makes major deal to develop cancer-fighting viruses
October 11, 2017 - Partners congratulate Turnstone Biologics Inc. Canadian academic institutions and research organizations are congratulating Turnstone Biologics on a new partnership with AbbVie to develop cancer-fighting viruses (also called oncolytic viral immuno
Cancer-fighting viruses: Canadian team to accelerate research with $7.4 million from Terry Fox Research Institute
September 27, 2017 - Imagine a tiny army of viruses entering a tumour, making thousands of copies of themselves and busting up cancer cells as they spread. Now imagine the body’s immune system coming in to fight off the virus and eliminate the remaining cancer cells at
Ottawa cancer researchers to play lead role in new immunotherapy initiative, worth $4 million
May 25, 2017 - The Ontario Institute of Cancer Research (OICR) has awarded $4 million to a team of researchers working to harness the immune system to attack cancer. Called cancer immunotherapy, this area of research was dubbed “breakthrough of the year” by Science
First cancer patient treated with a new experimental viral immunotherapy combination in a clinical trial
April 26, 2017 - The Ottawa Hospital and Hamilton Health Sciences have begun a clinical trial to determine if an experimental therapy that combines two viruses and a drug may be able to treat non-small cell lung cancer. This approach is designed to stimulate the
Cobra venom helps hybrid virus evade immune response and repeatedly attack tumours
March 24, 2017 - Viruses have shown promise in treating cancer, but it can be challenging to get multiple doses to a tumour because our immune system quickly learns to recognize and attack viruses. Two of our main antiviral defenses include antibodies that attach t
Ottawa researchers to play lead role in new cancer immunotherapy studies
February 15, 2017 - BioCanRx funds research into CAR-T and virus-infected cell therapy Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa will play a lead role in cutting-edge research on cancer immunotherapy, thanks to five new peer-reviewed researc
Ontario start-up company secures US$41.4 million to advance cancer immunotherapy
November 2, 2016 - Partners congratulate Turnstone Biologics Inc. The Ottawa Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) and McMaster University congratulate Turnstone Biologics Inc. (Turnstone) on securing US$ 41.
Virus-chemo combination therapy shows promise in breast cancer models
August 24, 2016 - Researchers in Dr. John Bell’s group and Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo’s group have discovered that a cancer-fighting virus called Maraba-MG1, together with a common chemotherapy called paclitaxel, can slow the growth of breast cancer in animal models an
Researchers find a way to supercharge cancer-fighting viruses
June 14, 2016 - A research team led by Drs. Jean-Simon Diallo, Christopher Boddy and Jeffrey Smith has created a new molecule that could help cancer-fighting viruses be more effective against a wider variety of tumours. Engineered viruses that destroy cancer ...
Terry Fox award helps Ottawa researcher develop next-generation cancer immunovirotherapy
February 4, 2016 - What if there was a way to destroy cancer cells and stimulate a patient’s own immune system to attack tumours, while leaving healthy tissues unharmed? The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) has awarded Dr. Guy Ungerechts (The Ottawa Hospital and
Taking the Trojan horse to the next level: using fruit fly cells to deliver viral therapies for cancer
December 8, 2015 - Oncolytic viruses destroy cancer cells without harming normal cells, but once an immune response develops against a given virus, it can become more difficult for subsequent doses of virus to get through the blood stream and into tumours. One possible
Virus vs. Prostate Cancer: Canadian Researchers Pioneer Next-generation Therapy -- Prostate Cancer Canada and the Movember Foundation partner to make innovative work possible
September 30, 2015 - A multi-disciplinary team of scientists and clinicians led by Dr. John Bell of The Ottawa Hospital is developing a treatment for prostate cancer using viruses that destroy cancer cells and boost the anti-cancer immune response, all the while leaving
Research reveals how cancer-fighting viruses infect tumour blood vessels
August 19, 2015 - Researchers around the world are developing oncolytic viruses that preferentially replicate in and kill cancer cells, but laboratory and clinical studies have revealed that these viruses also replicate readily inside the “normal” cells that make up
Cancer patients treated in world-first clinical trial of Canadian viral therapy
July 10, 2015 - Canadian researchers have launched the world’s first clinical trial of a novel investigational therapy that uses a combination of two viruses to attack and kill cancer cells, and stimulate an anti-cancer immune response. Previous research by this tea
Partners herald new cancer immunotherapy company
May 4, 2015 - The Ottawa Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) and McMaster University congratulate its researchers on forming Turnstone Biologics Inc., a biotechnology company focused on developing new tre
Pancreatic cancer loses viral defences when talking with supporting cells
April 20, 2015 - Ottawa researchers have unlocked a way to make pancreatic cancer cells more vulnerable to cancer-killing viruses, known as oncolytic viruses. Outlined in a paper published today by Nature Medicine, the scientists have discovered how they can exploit
The Ottawa Hospital to host $60M national research network for innovative cancer treatments
December 15, 2014 - BioCanRX network to focus on promising biotherapeutics such as oncolytic viruses, immune cells and synthetic antibodies The Government of Canada announced $25 million today, with an additional $35M from partners, to create the first Network of ...
$1.2M to advance the treatment of pancreatic cancer
April 2, 2014 - The Canadian Cancer Society has awarded Dr. John Bell an Impact Grant totalling $1.2 million over the next five years to further his research into the use of viruses to fight pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer. According to the