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INTENSIVE CHEMOTHERAPY AIDED BY GM-CSF TREATMENT; GROWTH FACTOR PROTECTS BONE MARROW, ALLOWS MORE AGGRESSIVE CANCER TREATMENT

 INTENSIVE CHEMOTHERAPY AIDED BY GM-CSF TREATMENT; GROWTH FACTOR
 PROTECTS BONE MARROW, ALLOWS MORE AGGRESSIVE CANCER TREATMENT
 HOUSTON, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A modified chemotherapy schedule using the growth factor GM-CSF (granulocyte macrophage colony- stimulating factor) has been shown to boost and protect bone marrow and allow more aggressive treatment in patients with certain types of cancers, according to a study headed by a researcher at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
 The study, appearing in this month's Journal of Clinical Oncology demonstrated, that yeast-derived GM-CSF reduced the severity of bone marrow suppression, enhanced recovery of infection-fighting white blood cells and allowed physicians to intensify treatment in some patients by increasing doses of chemotherapy or reducing the time between chemotherapeutic courses.
 "Many sarcoma patients have a better tumor response with higher doses of chemotherapy," said Saroj Vadhan-Raj, MD, associate professor of medicine, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, "Serious side effects often limit optimal treatment of cancer patients. The protection provided by GM-CSF allowed us to intensify therapy." The purpose of the study was to determine optimal dosing, scheduling and timing of GM-CSF administration. The study involved 23 patients with sarcoma -- a cancer occurring in supportive tissues such as bone, cartilage, fat or muscles -- who had experienced severe neutropenia (abnormally low white blood cell production) after intensive chemotherapy.
 The study showed that, in addition to enhancing white cell recovery, the modified treatment schedule significantly reduced neutropenia and leukopenia. Severe neutropenia was eliminated in seven patients, allowing doctors to further intensify chemotherapy doses. Additionally, the researchers found that GM-CSF reduced the incidence of mucositis (mouth ulcers), a common side effect of chemotherapy.
 Researchers examined the potential value of GM-CSF as a protective measure prior to chemotherapy. "When growth factor is used with chemotherapy for multiple cycles, GM-CSF administered post-treatment becomes pre-treatment for the next course of chemotherapy," said Dr. Vadhan-Raj.
 GM-CSF was well-tolerated in most patients. Side effects from the treatment regimen included decreased appetite, fever and chills, headache, muscular pain, malaise, sweating and bone pain. Fever and body aches were controlled with acetaminophen.
 GM-CSF is one of a group of human cytokines that regulate production of white blood cells. The drug was first licensed in March 1991 for the acceleration of marrow engraftment following autologous bone marrow transplantation to treat certain cancers. GM-CSF was developed by the Immunex Corporation (NASDAQ: IMNX) of Seattle. It is sold by Immunex under the trademark Leukine (R) and by Hoechst-Roussel Pharmaceuticals Inc. under the trademark Prokine (TM).
 The study was conducted at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Study collaborators included Drs. Hal E. Broxmeyer, Walter N. Hittelman, Nicholas E. Papadopoulos, Sant P. Chawla, Claudio Fenoglio, Scott Cooper, E. Stephen Bueshcer, Robert W. Frenck, Jr., Andrij Holian, Raymond C. Perkins, Ronald K. Scheule, Jordan U. Gutterman and Robert S. Benjamin.
 -0- 8/7/92 R
 /CONTACT: Jane Brust of M. D. of Anderson Cancer Center, 713-792-0655/
 (IMNX) CO: Immunex Corp. ST: Texas IN: MTC SU: PDT


SB -- NY001 -- 8076 08/07/92 14:27 EDT
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Date:Aug 7, 1992
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