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ALPHA-BETA TECHNOLOGY BEGINS BETAFECTIN PHASE I CLINICAL TRIALS; FIRST OF NEW ENGINEERED CARBOHYDRATE PHARMACEUTICALS TO ENTER HUMAN STUDIES

ALPHA-BETA TECHNOLOGY BEGINS BETAFECTIN PHASE I CLINICAL TRIALS; FIRST OF NEW ENGINEERED CARBOHYDRATE PHARMACEUTICALS TO ENTER HUMAN STUDIES
 WORCESTER, Mass., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Alpha-Beta Technology, Inc. announced today that the company has started Phase I clinical trials with Betafectin(tm), a carbohydrate-based compound under development for the prevention and treatment of infections related to surgery and cancer chemotherapy. Betafectin is the first of a new generation of carbohydrate pharmaceuticals to enter clinical trials.
 "Betafectin has major potential to reduce the incidence and severity of infections in patients with weakened immune systems by stimulating the disease-fighting activity of white blood cells," said Dr. Spiros Jamas, president and CEO of Alpha-Beta. "In the United States, over 2 million patients per year are at risk from such infections. Infections in immune-compromised patients frequently result in lengthened hospital stays and, in many cases, death.
 "The entry of Betafectin into clinical trials is a major milestone for Alpha-Beta and validates the promise of carbohydrate engineering technology," Dr. Jamas said. "Carbohydrate polymers have recently generated considerable scientific interest as potential pharmaceuticals based on advances in understanding their biological activity, on their great structural diversity, and on their ease of manufacturing relative to proteins."
 Betafectin is an engineered, carbohydrate polymer that targets a protein on white blood cells called the b-glucan receptor. The resulting carbohydrate-receptor interaction primes the specific immune-responses that increase the body's defenses against pathogens without undersirable effects such as inflammatory reactions.
 Preclinical trials with Betafectin sponsored by the company have demonstrated a significant protective effect against gram negative, gram positive and yeast infections. For example, in a recent study in a rat model that simulates infection following abdominal surgery, there was a 60 percent mortality rate in an untreated control group that received a microbial challenge compared with no deaths in a group receiving Betafectin. The study, presented in March 1991 at the First International Congress on Biological Response Modifiers, was conducted by researchers led by Dr. Andrew Onderdonk, director of Clinical Microbiology Laboratories at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard Medical School. Betafectin has also demonstrated an excellent safety profile over a wide range of doses.
 The initial Phase I trial is designed to assess Betafectin's safety in healthy volunteers. Following completion of the study, Alpha-Beta expects to begin Phase I/II trials in immune-compromised patients to evaluate safety, dosing, and activity.
 Alpha-Beta Technology, Inc. is developing patentable carbohydrate- based products for the healthcare industry through the application of carbohydrate engineering. The company's major products in development include Betafectin for the treatment and prevention of infections related to surgery and chemotherapy; Cholestran(tm) for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease; and Fibercel(tm), a fat substitute. Alpha Beta's headquarters, laboratory and pilot production facilities are located in Worcester.
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 /CONTACT: Spiros Jamas, Sc.D., president of Alpha-Beta Technology, 508-798-6900; or Robert Gottlieb of Feinstein Partners, 617-577-8110, for Alpha-Beta Technology/ CO: Alpha-Beta Technology, Inc. ST: Massachusetts IN: MTC SU:


SH -- NE002 -- 7180 01/07/92 08:39 EST
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Date:Jan 7, 1992
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