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ENHANCED SURVIVAL FOR MELANOMA PATIENTS ON RIBI THERAPY SUGGESTED BY NEW TEST FOR IMMUNOLOGICAL RESPONSE

 ENHANCED SURVIVAL FOR MELANOMA PATIENTS ON RIBI THERAPY
 SUGGESTED BY NEW TEST FOR IMMUNOLOGICAL RESPONSE
 HAMILTON, Mont., Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- A simple blood test may be used to predict longer survival for patients receiving MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine, according to an interim analysis of a multi- center Phase II study of MELACINE(R), Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc. (NASDAQ: RIBI) announced today. The interim results are being presented this week at an international symposium on Advances in the Biology and Clinical Management of Melanoma in Houston by Gary T. Elliott, Pharm. D., Ph.D., Lead Research Scientist for Ribi ImmunoChem.
 According to the interim analysis, a group of patients receiving MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine who were defined as displaying a "Leu positive" reaction experienced median survival of 41 months. The median survival for patients with disseminated melanoma receiving chemotherapy is approximately 12 months, according to published clinical study data. The designation "Leu positive" refers to a blood test to determine increased levels of a white blood cell known as "Leu 7 positive CTL" following immunization with MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine Of the patients tested for Leu 7 levels, just over 50 percent were classified as "Leu positive." Increased survival was also associated with tumor regression or disease stabilization, further evidence of an active, specific immune response to immunization with MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine.
 "A three-fold increase in life extension is significant, considering the aggressive nature of melanoma," said Dr. Jon A. Rudbach, vice president research & development for Ribi ImmunoChem. "We have initiated a multi-center Phase III controlled clinical study of MELACINE(R) which will incorporate life extension over that provided by chemotherapy as the primary standard of efficacy. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first controlled clinical study of a cancer vaccine to use life extension and quality of life, rather than tumor regression, as the primary endpoint.
 "The Phase III randomized, controlled trial will allow us to confirm that elevated levels of Leu 7 positive CTLs can be correlated to MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine therapy and extended survival," Rudbach said. "Such a finding will be extremely important to the treating clinician since it will allow improved prognosis."
 Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc., a biopharmaceutical company founded in 1981, is a leader in the development of immunostimulants for use in preventing and treating human and animal diseases.
 -0- 11/20/91
 /CONTACT: Jeffrey S. McDowell or Jon A. Rudbach of Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc., 406-363-6214/
 (RIBI) CO: Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc. ST: Montana IN: MTC SU:


JH-LM -- SE001 -- 5286 11/20/91 09:25 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 20, 1991
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