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Oncolytics Biotech, Inc. (ONCY) is “One to Watch”

Oncolytics Biotech, Inc. (TSX: ONC NASDAQ: ONCY) engages in the discovery and development of pharmaceutical products for the treatment of a wide variety of human cancers. Founded in 1998 in Alberta, Canada, the company was initially formed to research the oncolytic capability of the reovirus, a virus that preferentially replicates in cells with an activated Ras pathway, a common characteristic present in the family of genetic cell defects leading to cancer.

Reovirus, or Respiratory Enteric Orphan virus, is generally believed to inhabit the respiratory and bowel systems in humans, and can be found naturally in sewage and water supplies. One of the obstacles with reovirus is that there are no clear symptoms from infections. The link that developed to its cancer-killing ability was established after the reovirus was discovered to reproduce well in various cancer cell lines.

Tumors bearing an activated Ras pathway are deficient in their ability to activate the anti-viral response mediated by the host cellular protein, PKR. Because PKR is responsible for preventing reovirus replication, tumor cells lacking the activity of PKR are prone to the virus’s replication. In tumor cells possessing an activated Ras pathway, reovirus is able to freely replicate and eventually kill the host tumor cells, therefore allowing the virus to infect surrounding cancer cells. This cycle of infection, replication and cell death is believed to be repeated until there are no longer any tumor cells carrying an activated Ras pathway available.

REOLYSIN® is Oncolytic’s proprietary formulation of the human reovirus, and has been demonstrated to have the capability to replicate specifically in tumor cells bearing an activate Ras pathway. Activating mutations of Ras and upstream elements of Ras may play a greater role involving the majority of all human cancers. REOLYSIN® could represent a novel treatment for Ras-activated tumor cells and some cellular proliferative disorders. Oncolytics’ clinical program includes human trials utilizing REOLYSIN® by itself and in combination with radiation and chemotherapy. The company has been working diligently over the years and has completed seven human clinical trials, reached a collaborative agreement with the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. to proceed with further clinical trials. The company holds a strong cash position, and is comprised of an experienced management team and board of directors.

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