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THERION BIOLOGICS CORPORATION SIGNS EXCLUSIVE WORLDWIDE AGREEMENT WITH HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL FOR NOVEL AIDS VACCINE TECHNOLOGY

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Therion Biologics Corporation announced today that it has signed an exclusive worldwide license and has begun a research collaboration with Harvard Medical School to develop a live, attenuated (genetically modified) AIDS vaccine.  The novel AIDS vaccine technology was pioneered by Dr. Ronald Desrosiers of Harvard University's New England Regional Primate Research Center.
    Researchers led by Dr. Desrosiers have developed a live attenuated SIV (a virus related to HIV that infects macaques) vaccine as a prototype system for an AIDS vaccine.  In the Dec. 18, 1992 issue of the journal Science, Desrosiers' group reported that this prototype vaccine provided complete protection against infection with SIV for over two years.
    "Although it is at an early stage, we believe that the technology pioneered by Ron Desrosiers represents one of the most promising approaches to developing an AIDS vaccine," commented Dennis L. Panicali, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Therion.  "The preliminary research by Desrosiers' group showed the longest-lasting and most complete protection of any vaccine candidate tested in an animal model to date."
    Panicali continued, "This vaccine technology is an important addition to Therion's broader program to develop genetically engineered live virus vaccines and therapies for AIDS, and complements our approach of using recombinant viral vectors.  Because they more closely mimic the natural pathogen than non-living vaccines, live recombinant vaccines have the potential to elicit a broad and durable immune response."
    Therion's most advanced vaccine candidate, designated TBC-3B, is a live recombinant vaccine.  TBC-3B produces several important structural and non-structural HIV proteins which makes it the most antigenically complete AIDS vaccine tested to date.  TBC-3B, which is based on a vaccinia vector, is in late preclinical evaluation.  Plans are under way to conduct clinical studies of TBC-3B in conjunction with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.  Therion has also developed a potential immunotherapeutic vaccine, PARTICLE-3B, which is intended for use in individuals who have tested positive for HIV, but who have not developed AIDS.  The PARTICLE 3-B product is based on genetically engineered pox viruses expressing multiple HIV antigens.
    The AIDS vaccine Therion licensed from Harvard is based on weakened strains of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) produced by removing from the virus one or more genes that are required by the virus to cause disease.  Through the collaboration, Therion and Harvard plan to test a variety of HIV strains containing genetic deletions with the goal of identifying a vaccine candidate that triggers an immune response without causing unexpected disorders long-term.
   Therion Biologics Corporation is engaged in the development of vaccines and immunotherapeutic products for the prevention and treatment of AIDS, other viral diseases and certain cancers.  Therion is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.
    -0-                      3/16/93
    /CONTACT:  Dr. Dennis L. Panicali, Ph.D., president & CEO of Therion Biologics Corporation, 6iGkZv?<:.?<?7. ?.3 CH -- NE003 -- 6422 03/16/93 09:34 EST
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Date:Mar 16, 1993
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