1999 Winner: Industrial Research
For decades, cancer researchers have been looking for a virus that could selectively replicate within a tumour to destroy malignant cells while leaving normal surrounding cells intact. Oncolytics Biotech has found an agent that appears to achieve this goal – the naturally occurring, benign human reovirus. Experiments published last year in Science demonstrate tumour regression after treatment with reovirus in mice with mouse tumours as well as mice implanted with human brain tumours. A single injection of reovirus was often enough to cause complete tumour regression.
It is predicted that this treatment can be effective for greater than 50% of all tumours. Oncolytics Biotech expects to begin Phase I clinical trials early in the year 2000. Oncolytics Biotech will use this prize to further the research and development phase of this project, particularly to look at how the immune system might affect treatment with reovirus.