Video Transcript – Cancer: Intravenously-delivered viral therapy

Back to Research Profiles – Dr. John Bell ]

Video of Dr. John Bell, Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo and Dr. Naomi De Silva

Dr. BELL: Right now, I'm working at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre and this is a full-service cancer centre where patients get treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy on the first two floors.

Here, on the third floor, we have a basic research lab and a manufacturing suite for making the therapeutics.

So it's a really great place to work because I see the patients downstairs. I am able to access samples from those patients. I am able to talk to their docs and understand what their issues are and we can really make sure that our research is relevant to the cancer patients' treatment.

DR. DIALLO: The discovery which was recently published in Nature is that, for the first time, it was actually possible to demonstrate that a virus specifically targeting tumours can be delivered directly into the bloodstream and reach metastatic tumours outside of the primary tumour. And this virus can replicate within the tumours and have an anticancerous effect.

DR. BELL: So this discovery has proven to us the concept that it's possible to deliver a virus as a therapy to cancers wherever they are in the body. And now, what we need to do is larger trials in patients to prove that it's effective in a large number of patients.

And so we'll do a trial now called a Phase 2 Trial and then follow that with a Phase 3 Trial which will compare our virus to the current standard of care for treatment of hepatic kind of cancer. In our case, we're going to look at liver cancer first.

DR. DE SILVA: This is a 3D model of one of the patient's tumours that was enrolled in the clinical trial. And so what we did was we looked at virus infection. And so the patient's tumour, this part of it is kind of like a tube shape, and the green is where the virus infected.

So what you can see is that the virus really infected along the entire tumour here, but the areas around the tumour, which are normal healthy cells, did not get infected.

One way that we analyse the samples from the clinical trial was: one of the surgeons would give us a tumour like this, from the operating room, and it would be from a patient that had been treated with the virus. And then we would embed the tumour into a wax block, just like this, and from this wax block we're able to make slides so that we can look at the tumour under the microscope.

DR. BELL: You know, the one thing that was really interesting about this virus treatment is that we found that the side-effects were really nothing. Patients had 24 hour flu and that was about it.

So what we hope is that this virus will prove to be effective in treating cancer patients, that will get better outcomes, that will get more success with this treatment, and probably, most importantly, the side-effects will be minimal. So really, patients will have a much better treatment, more effective, less toxicity and therefore a better life.

CIHR has been a great support of my entire career. There's no question I wouldn't be here today without the support CIHR and his predecessor. And certainly, basic operating grants are huge, for scientist like myself.

So we've now got a virus, which is in a clinic, it's being used in people, but that came from years and years of basic research that was supported by the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

Date modified: