Investment in research on viral vectors to deliver anticancer agents is providing returns, the CEO of Oncolytics will affirm. However, the road is treacherous.
Brad Thompson, CEO of Oncolytics Biotech, was thrilled to see CBS’ 60 Minutes bring attention to virus-based cancer treatments a couple weeks back, in a report focused on an engineered polio virus being developed at Duke University to treat glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer. But Thompson also understands all too well the challenges of bringing these viruses to market, having guided his company through a sometimes brutal and public quest to develop a treatment that’s similar to the Duke approach.
Oncolytics Biotech was founded in 1998 on discoveries made at the University of Calgary about the cancer-killing prowess of reovirus, a bug that most people have been exposed to but that typically doesn’t cause infectious symptoms. The company went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Nasdaq a couple of years after its founding, while it was conducting early phase 1 trials of its reovirus-based therapy, Reolysin, in head and neck cancer.
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