Dr. John Bell (Wikipedia) is a senior OHRI (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute) scientist and senior co-author of the publication in the journal Nature. Check out t a quicktime video of a three-dimensional reconstruction of part of a human colorectal tumour showing widespread infection with oncolytic vaccinia virus (green). Here is an excerpt from the OHRI press release (emphasis added),
“Researchers […] today reported promising results of a world-first cancer therapy trial in renowned journal Nature. The trial is the first to show that an intravenously-delivered viral therapy can consistently infect and spread within tumours without harming normal tissues in humans. It is also the first to show tumour-selective expression of a foreign gene after intravenous delivery.
The trial involved 23 patients (including seven at The Ottawa Hospital), all with advanced cancers that had spread to multiple organs and failed to respond to standard treatments. The patients received a single intravenous infusion of a virus called JX-594, at one of five dose levels, and biopsies were obtained eight to 10 days later. Seven of eight patients (87 per cent) in the two highest dose groups had evidence of viral replication in their tumour, but not in normal tissues. All of these patients also showed tumour-selective expression of a foreign gene that was engineered into the virus to help with detection. The virus was well tolerated at all dose levels, with the most common side effect being mild to moderate flu-like symptoms that lasted less than one day.
“We are very excited because this is the first time in medical history that a viral therapy has been shown to consistently and selectively replicate in cancer tissue after intravenous infusion in humans,” said Dr. John Bell, a Senior Scientist at OHRI, Professor of Medicine at uOttawa and senior co-author on the publication. “Intravenous delivery is crucial for cancer treatment because it allows us to target tumours throughout the body as opposed to just those that we can directly inject. The study is also important because it shows that we can use this approach to selectively express foreign genes in tumours, opening the door to a whole new suite of targeted cancer therapies.””