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Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation Celebrates Continued Expansion of the Oncolytic Virus Program

Major Funding Announcement to Benefit Local Cancer Patients

OTTAWA, ON – December 15, 2014 - Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence today gave renowned cancer researcher Dr. John Bell an early Christmas gift in the form of $25 million in renewable funding to back a national research group investigating biological cancer treatments.

The funding, which will draw together 42 scientists from across the country in a cooperative research collective, has also attracted $30 million in matching funds from other groups, including the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.  The Cancer Foundation has been a staunch supporter of Dr. Bell’s oncolytic virus work, supporting its continued development over the last 15 years.  In fact, their investment of $25,000 of donor funds launched the project in 2000.

“The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation has always been a supporter of this work, before anyone else was involved,” said Dr. Bell, who heads up the Bell Lab at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and will lead the new centre of excellence, called BioCanRX.

“About 15 years ago, the Cancer Foundation invested in some of the work at a time when we couldn’t get support from anywhere.  They came through in a big way and allowed us to start our research – and now here we are 15 years later and that work is helping to align researchers from across the country.  It’s incredibly powerful what the Cancer Foundation has helped us to create.

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The Cancer Foundation has also invested in the manufacturing end, supporting people in those labs around Ottawa. This latest venture is a downstream product of that support, not only with advancing these therapies. It’s now snowballed with this large investment and the Cancer Foundation has been a critical partner all along the way.”

“It is incredible to see such collaboration and partnership happening on a local and national level,” explains Linda Eagen, the President & CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.  “We believe this will have a huge impact for cancer patients here in our community.”

Money to BioCanRX will be dispersed immediately, with some funding going to advanced immune therapy trials happening at other provincial cancer sites. Clinical trials are expected to commence in the spring of 2015, with more research dollars rolling out nationally over the next year.

 “The bottom line is we’ll be testing the most advanced and innovative cancer therapies in Canada, from ideas across the country and tested in Ottawa,” Dr. Bell continues. “Locally, cancer patients will have the benefit of the most advanced therapeutics available.”

Over the next five years, the network hopes to commence four new trials and hopefully attract the attention of pharmaceutical partners.

“I would love that to be the case. It’s an incredible feeling because I’ve been doing this for a long time, for 30 years, but in the past two to three years, we’re seeing a change in the years of cancer survival and it’s incredible to be part of that process.”  

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