Lab Canada

Results of reovirus treatment to purge stem cell preparations of contaminating cancers

Calgary, AB March 19, 2003 Oncolytics Biotech reported today that Dr Don Morris and his research group with the Alberta Cancer Board and the University of Calgary published the results of their work with the human reovirus for the removal of contaminating cancer cells from autologous (harvested from the patient themselves) blood stem cells in model systems. The results were pre-published online in the March 13 issue of “Blood”.

“This is an important extension of the potential therapeutic use of the reovirus beyond what has recently been explored,” says Dr Matt Coffey, vice president product development. “We are excited by the potential opportunities to use this agent clinically in diverse and evolving capacities.”

Hematological stem cell rescue following high-dose chemotherapy is extensively used clinically for both solid tumors and tumors of the blood. Globally, the number of autologous blood and bone marrow transplants surpasses the number of donor-derived transplants. It has been estimated that as many as 30% of these autologous stem cell transplants are contaminated by cancer cells. Dr Morris and his colleagues demonstrated that reovirus purged contaminating cancer cells present in these stem cells derived from bone marrow.

In addition, two recent publications addressed different elements of research into the use of the human reovirus as a potential cancer therapeutic. Hirasawa et al in the January 15 edition of "Cancer Research" demonstrated the use of the reovirus in treating metastatic disease in animal models using the reovirus delivered systemically. This is the first published examination of the systemic use of the reovirus in immune competent animals. Etoh et al in the March 9 edition of "Clinical Cancer Research" examined the use of the reovirus to kill pancreatic cancers both in vitro and in animal models.