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 SEATTLE, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Immunex Corp. (NASDAQ: IMNX)

received today U.S. patent 5,073,627 covering genetically engineered fusion proteins of granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and Interleukin-3 (IL-3), which stimulate the growth of white blood cells and platelets. Immunex is developing PIXY321, one protein covered by the patent to treat cancer patients suffering from chemotherapy or radiation therapy-induced blood deficiencies. PIXY321 may also be useful in treating certain types of infectious diseases and hematologic disorders.
 PIXY321 is a second-generation biopharmaceutical which combines the biological effects of two therapeutic cytokines: GM-CSF, which stimulates the growth of infection-fighting neutrophils and macrophages, and IL-3, which is being investigated for its effects in promoting the growth of megakaryocytes that form platelets, the elements in the blood responsible for clotting. Immunex scientists Linda Park, David Cosman and Benson Curtis, the inventors of the technologies described in the patent, linked analog forms of GM-CSF and IL-3 together via an amino acid sequence to produce a fusion protein that is more biologically active than GM-CSF or IL-3 alone or in combination.
 The fusion protein patent, which was granted today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, covers various configurations of analog GM-CSF and IL-3 proteins, in addition to the specific PIXY321 protein. The patent also describes a unique amino acid "linker" sequence that permits the fusion of these molecules without inhibiting their activity. The company also has received a notice of allowance for a second patent covering DNAs, recombinant DNA processes and materials used in manufacturing GM-CSF/IL-3 fusion proteins.
 "PIXY321 represents an exciting new approach to treating white blood cell and platelet deficiencies," said Steven Gillis, Ph.D., Immunex executive vice president and senior scientist. "PIXY321 has the potential advantages of greater convenience, lower dose and lower cost than GM-CSF and IL-3 administered together. It is also easier to design and execute clinical studies of one drug, rather than two drugs used in combination. We believe PIXY321 will be useful in treating a wide range of blood cell disorders and that interest in this product will grow significantly as physicians expand their use of growth factors to treat disease."
 In October, Immunex began Phase I clinical trials of PIXY321 at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The initial Phase I clinical trial is studying sarcoma patients who receive PIXY321 before and following chemotherapy. Additional Phase I trials begin this week at the University of Arizona Cancer Center in patients with gastrointestinal cancers, and are scheduled to begin at the National Cancer Institute in January in patients with refractory solid tumors.
 "We are pleased to receive this important patent for CSF fusion proteins," said Scott Hallquist, Immunex senior vice president and general counsel. "The remarkable properties of these molecules have not been observed for any other cytokine fusion. PIXY321 is a classic example of innovation in the biotechnology industry."
 Immunex Corp. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the research, development, manufacture and marketing of products to treat cancer and autoimmune disease. Immunex is developing an extensive portfolio of therapeutic products which have the potential to treat a wide range of immune system disorders.
 -0- 12/17/91
 CONTACT: Jason Rubin or Valoree Dowell of Immunex Corp. 206-587-0430/
 (IMNX) CO: Immunex Corp. ST: Washington IN: MTC SU:

JH-LM -- SE001 -- 2820 12/17/91 08:32 EST
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Date:Dec 17, 1991

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