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Dr. Patrick Lee

Dr. Patrick Lee In 1998, Dr. Patrick Lee of the University of Calgary made an astonishing announcement. He and his research team had just discovered that reo-virus, a naturally occurring human virus, could kill cancer cells.

University of Calgary As one can expect of news of this magnitude, the discovery was heard the world over. Lee, who had, up until then, run a fairly quiet laboratory, found himself gathering a substantial amount of media attention. Grateful for the attention and increased support recognition brings, Lee also received a number of heart-wrenching telephone calls from terribly ill cancer patients offering themselves for testing his potential cure.

Originally from Hong Kong, Lee moved to Edmonton in the 1960s and began to study at the University of Alberta, where he earned both his BSc and PhD. He moved to Duke University in Indiana for his post-doctoral training and joined the University of Calgary’s Department of Microbiology and Infectious Disease in 1981. Becoming a full professor in 1991, Lee focused for many years researching reo-virus, which he had learned about in the late 1970s.

Reo-virus, or respiratory enteric orphan virus, is naturally occurring and believed to cause mild infections of the upper respiratory and gastro-intestinal tract in humans. However, in testing mice with implanted human cancer tumours, Lee and his team of researchers were able to show that reo-virus also has the ability to selectively kill a wide variety of cancer cells.

Oncolytics Biotech Inc. logo In 1998, once the researching affirming the cancer-killing power of reo-virus in mice was conclusive, Dr. Lee co-founded the company Oncolytics Biotech Inc. The company was created to further develop research regarding the use of reo-virus in treating different types of cancer. Oncolytics Biotech Inc. is currently the holder of 13 Canadian patents, all of which deal with the treatment of cancer through viruses.

Recently, Lee has accepted an appointment to the Cameron Chair in Cancer Research at Dalhousie University. He will begin research in Halifax in 2003.

Although Lee’s findings profoundly advanced cancer research, it has yet to be proven that reo-virus can kill cancer in humans.

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