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 MIAMI, Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- A new drug that shows substantial promise in fighting lymphoma, a form of cancer that kills 20,000 Americans a year, has been developed by Coulter Corporation in coordination with researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
 A study, published in the Aug. 12 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, found the Coulter drug successful in dramatically shrinking tumors in 70 percent of atients with B-cell lymphoma, an almost-always- fatal form of cancer that attacks lymph nodes throughout the body. The tumors completely disappeared and have not recurred in one-third of the patients. And none of the patients reported significant side effects.
 "I believe we have made a breakthrough in the logjam we've been encountering for the past two decades in the treatment of this disease," said Dr. Mark Kaminski, associate professor of internal medicine and director of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, which undertook the study. Dr. Kaminski is the principal author of the article.
 Annually, more than 30,000 Americans are diagnosed as having B-cell lymphoma, according to researchers. Many of these are as young as in their 30s, making this the fourth-worst cancer in terms of years of life lost due to patient deaths, said Dr. Gregory M. Butchko, a Coulter immunologist who is one of the co-authors of the article, along with Coulter researcher Dr. Stephan D. Glenn, whose specialty is physiology.
 The B1 monoclonal antibody was developed by researchers at the Dana- Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School. Coulter has a business arrangement with Harvard and the Cancer Institute to develop diagnostic and therapeutic applications of these monoclonal antibodies. Since the initial development of the B1 monoclonal antibody, Coulter has undertaken more than seven years of research in finding ways to use this antibody, armed with a radioisotope, to bind to a protein found only on the surface of B-cells. Once attached to the malignant cells, the radioisotope delivers a low dose of radiation lethal to those cells but sparing healthy cells nearby. Also, the B1 antibody is believed to stimulate the immune system to fight off cancerous B-cells.
 Butchko said Coulter's new treatment, called radioimmunotherapy (RIT), combines the most beneficial aspects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which, along with bone marrow transplantation, have been the most frequent treatments for B-cell lymphoma. However, by pinpointing the cancerous cells, this new drug application can be more successful while averting such common severe side effects as suppression of the body's capacity to produce white and red blood cells, hair loss and nausea.
 "Right after the infusion, the scans showed that the drug was going right to where the cancer was located," said Lyman Warnock, 58, a retired teacher from Michigan, who was one of 10 patients treated with the Coulter-produced drug at the University of Michigan center. "Since then, I've had scans every three months, including one just three weeks ago, and nothing has shown up. This treatment seems to have knocked it out.
 "I had no side effects, and there are no problems of any kind," added Warnock, who previously had undergone radiation and six rounds of chemotherapy with only temporary results during his six-year fight against B-cell lymphoma.
 The trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, is expected to be finished by the end of 1993. If further phases of testing proceed on a fast track, the drug could be generally available within five to eight years, Butchko said.
 Miami-based Coulter Corporation is a worldwide leader in blood cell analyzers and other diagnostic products for clinical and research laboratories. The privately owned company has had worldwide operations in place for more than 35 years.
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 /CONTACT: Bobbie Wallace, 305-380-2543, or Greg Butchko, Ph.D., 305-380-2593, both of Coulter Corporation; or Robert Seitz or Paul Scott Abbott of Burson-Marsteller, 305-372-1513, for Coulter Corporation/

CO: Coulter Corporation; The New England Journal of Medicine ST: Florida IN: MTC HEA SU: PDT

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 12, 1993

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