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CLINICAL TRIALS BEGIN WITH NEW CANCER VACCINE DEVELOPED BY THERION BIOLOGICS CORPORATION IN COLLABORATION WITH NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE

 CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Therion Biologics Corporation announced today that Phase I/II clinical trials have begun with a cancer vaccine developed by the company in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute. The live virus vaccine is constructed using Therion's poxvirus technology and is engineered to contain the human gene for carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a protein found on the surface of many types of cancer cells. The new vaccine, called TBC-CEA, is the first CEA-based cancer vaccine to undergo clinical testing in the United States. The studies are being conducted in patients with advanced gastrointestinal, breast or lung cancer.
 "We are pleased to be collaborating with NCI in the development of this new cancer vaccine," commented Dennis L. Panicali, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Therion. "The rationale for this approach, which uses vaccinia and a tumor antigen to elicit a full range of immune responses against cancer cells, is supported by results obtained from preclinical tests conducted by Therion and NCI. The clinical trials now under way are designed to assess the safety of the treatment as well as to provide preliminary information regarding the ability of TBC-CEA to eliminate or retard the growth of tumors."
 The Phase I/II trial conducted by the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. will test the safety of the Therion TBC-CEA vaccine over several dose ranges. The tests will also provide an indication of the ability of the vaccine to produce an immune response directed against tumors. The TBC-CEA vaccine will be administered to patients once per month for three months. Approximately 50 patients with CEA-bearing tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, breast or lung will participate in the trial.
 The National Cancer Institute developed a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing human CEA as a prototype of the cancer vaccine now in clinical trials. Researchers at NCI demonstrated that, in mice given an experimental form of CEA-expressing colon cancer, tumor growth significantly slowed or regressed following vaccination with the NCI CEA prototype cancer vaccine. In preclinical studies, the recombinant CEA vaccine appeared safe and produced potent antibody and cell-mediated immune responses. In contrast, no anti-tumor effects were observed in control mice treated with vaccinia without CEA. These studies were reported in the July 15, 1992 issue of the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute."
 The Therion vaccinia virus vector is a genetically engineered derivative of the original virus used to vaccinate against smallpox. Vaccinia virus is a potent stimulator of the immune response. The safety of vaccinia virus as a vaccine has been established through its role in the worldwide eradication of smallpox.
 CEA is one of the most thoroughly characterized tumor associated antigens and is found on more than 90 percent of malignant colorectal, gastric and pancreatic cancer cells, as well as in approximately 50 percent of breast and 70 percent of non-small cell lung carcinomas. In the United States during 1991, there were 158,000 cases of colorectal cancer, 176,000 cases of breast cancer and 161,000 cases of lung cancer.
 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- 6/28/93
 /CONTACT: Dennis L. Panicali, Ph.D., president and CEO, Therion Biologics Corporation, 617-876-7779; Lynne H. Brum, Feinstein Partners Inc., 617-577-8110, for Therion/


CO: Therion Biologics Corporation ST: Massachusetts IN: MTC SU:

DJ -- NE001 -- 6087 06/28/93 08:30 EDT
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Date:Jun 28, 1993
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