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MULTIPLE PEPTIDE SYSTEMS PROVIDES GMP PEPTIDES FOR HUMAN CLINICAL TRIALS OF MALARIA VACCINE

 MULTIPLE PEPTIDE SYSTEMS PROVIDES GMP PEPTIDES
 FOR HUMAN CLINICAL TRIALS OF MALARIA VACCINE
 SAN DIEGO, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Multiple Peptide Systems (MPS) announced today that a malaria vaccine produced for the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in its GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) peptide production laboratory in San Diego has entered into human clinical trials.
 Richard Houghten, Ph.D. and MPS founder, said, "The vaccine was developed by Dr. Manual Patarroyo several years ago at the Hospital of San Juan de Dios Institute of Immunology in Bogota, Columbia. Controversy over the vaccine's efficacy lead Walter Reed to seek out MPS, a GMP peptide production facility, to attempt reproduction of Patarroyo's vaccine. Preclinical data suggest that MPS's vaccine may be the first American attempt to accomplish this."
 "Our preclinical data match Patarroyo's exactly," said Ripley Ballou, M.D. and chief, department of immunology at Walter Reed. "This is a tricky molecule to work with, so it is not surprising that other facilities have had difficulty in reproducing his results."
 Houghten, a recognized pioneer in peptide research and the potential therapeutical use of peptides, had gone to Columbia to assist Patarroyo in developing peptide technology capabilities prior to the vaccine's discovery. This expertise and involvement led to the selection of MPS last year. Patarroyo sent his chemists to MPS to oversee laboratory protocols.
 The vaccine was completed and bottled this spring and has undergone preclinical testing. An investigational new drug (IND) application was filed with the FDA by Walter Reed on Aug. 7. With no hold imposed by the FDA in the requisite 30-day waiting period, Walter Reed began identifying 10 volunteers on Sept. 7. During clinical trials, the subjects will receive a 2 milligram injection at the start, one month later and six months after the initial inoculation. Blood samples will be taken two weeks after each inoculation to determine antibody and cellular response.
 Ballou said, "Walter Reed is very interested in pursuing more geographically extensive Phase II trials if Phase I data remains consistent with Patarroyo's results. The research is considered a high priority because of the worldwide impact of malaria, particularly in economically depressed regions."
 Malaria is a parasitic disease (genus plasmodium) which passes through a series of life stages. The organism is passed back and forth between mosquitoes and mammals. The initial attack on humans takes place in liver cells. Later, it rapidly spreads to the red blood cells, which is a more dangerous stage of infection. This is expressed as a non-specific illness, including fever, headache and weakness. If allowed to progress in the blood cells, the disease can lead to coma within 24 hours. Once in a coma, the patient is unlikely to recover.
 One of the motivating factors for Walter Reed is the low survival rate in first-time victims. This is commonly the predicament of travelers and military personnel in tropical regions. Each year, 200 million cases of malaria occur, with 2 million deaths -- most of whom are children contracting the disease for the first time in their lives. Survival rates appear to increase with each bout of malaria in the individual. Patarroyo used this information and evaluated the biochemistry of malaria survivors to arrive at the peptide-based vaccine.
 "All known strains of malaria can be effectively treated if accurately diagnosed in time," Ballou explained. "But existing cures may require high dosage, intravenous and therefore expensive treatments. What's more, they rely on an accurate and timely diagnosis. Because malaria is most prominent in economically depressed, tropical and subtropical regions, this approach is not very effective."
 For these reasons, a chemoprophylactic has been the favored approach to halting malaria. But rapid mutation of the parasite has, until now, prevented a universal vaccine. Malarial organisms in regions such as Vietnam and Cambodia are completely immune to all existing chemoprophylactics. With troops in many such areas, Walter Reed is particularly interested in finding a vaccine.
 "To our knowledge, this is the first vaccine comprised solely of peptides," said Houghten. "This milestone in disease prevention may be key in developing many new vaccines from peptides."
 Historically, peptides have been too small to possess any immunogenic characteristics. The vaccine, as designed by Patarroyo and prepared under GMP conditions by MPS, consists of five peptides. Three of these are part of molecules of the blood stages of malaria. The other two are identical copies of a sporozoite (liver cell) stage molecule. These five are attached in an alternating sequence: blood stage, sporozoite, blood stage, etc. These strands bind to many others to form a large, starch-like molecule. Seemingly, it is only through this cross-polymerization that a peptide vaccine can generate the desired immune response.
 Multiple Peptide Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Houghten Pharmaceuticals Inc. (HPI). It is a leading supplier of high quality custom production and purification services for peptide synthesis, peptide antigens, antibodies and related chemicals. MPS strives to meet the growing demand for synthetic peptides in biotechnology research and currently supplies custom peptides and other services to more than 1,000 research institutions and laboratories worldwide. MPS and HPI occupy more than 20,000 square feet in Torrey Pines Business and Research Park, San Diego.
 -0- 10/13/92
 /CONTACT: Tom Gable or Julie Smutko of The Gable Group, 619-234-1300, for Multiple Peptide Systems/ CO: Multiple Peptide Systems; Walter Reed Army Institute of Research ST: California IN: MTC SU:


LS-JB -- SD004 -- 9140 10/13/92 09:04 EDT
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