John Bell, PhD

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Dr. John Bell is recipient of the Swim Across America Award.

Glioblastomas are among the most difficult cancers to treat. Oncolytic viruses [OV] have proven effective in late-stage clinical trials for other forms of cancer. They are able to selectively replicate in and kill tumor cells without harming normal cells. However, the treatment has been less safe for the brain, and more difficult to implement on a large scale.

Dr. Bell and his team have discovered a new oncolytic variant, a Chimeric Maraba virus that has been proven to be less toxic and most effective in rodent models with human glioblastoma. The ACGT grant has enabled the design of a GMP-manufacturing process of this virus and the initiation of a Phase I human trial to establish safety and efficacy. Dr. Bell is currently treating the first patients in the trial. This new Oncolytic Virus variant has the potential to treat primary metastatic and recurrent brain cancer, improve quality of life and extend survival for patients.

Dr. John Bell received his PhD from McMaster University, then trained at the Medical Research Council in London, England. John began his independent research career at McGill University before moving to the University of Ottawa and becoming a Professor in the Department of Medicine. He is a member of the Center for Innovative Cancer Therapeutics at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Center and a Senior Scientist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. He heads the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, a Terry Fox funded group from across Canada that is developing virus based cancer therapeutics and is the Director of the Biotherapeutics Program for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. John is the Scientific Director of the recently awarded National Centre of Excellence for the development of Biotherapeutics for Cancer Therapy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dr. Bell discusses his current research, specifically oncolytic virus-based therapies for cancer in this video.

Dr. Bell is Co-Founder, Turnstone Biologics, Inc. and currently serves on ACGT’s Scientific Advisory Council.

Return to Leadership