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New Collaborative Research Program Between Alfacell And University of Frankfurt; Focus on the Pediatric Malignancies.

BLOOMFIELD, N.J. -- Alfacell Corporation (BULLETIN BOARD: ACEL) , today announced the results of a new collaboration with Dr. Martin Michaelis at the Institute of Medicinal Virology at Johann Wolfgang University of Frankfurt, Germany, that focuses on the use of ONCONASE(R), a novel, proprietary, anti-cancer drug to treat various forms of childhood soft tissue and muscle cancer.

Results of in vitro (laboratory) studies revealed significant anti-tumor activity of ONCONASE against neuroblastoma (cancers of the embryonic cells from which the nerve cells develop), rhabdomyosarcoma (tumors of the muscle) and chemotherapy-resistant variants of the same cell lines.

ONCONASE, a new class of ribonuclease drug, is active even in cell lines where traditional chemotherapy has failed. ONCONASE also overcomes the problem of multiple drug resistance, as well as other forms of drug resistance, such as that to cisplatin in the human resistant ovarian carcinoma, as previously published. "Cisplatin-resistant neuroblastoma cell lines appear to be most susceptible to treatment with ONCONASE," according to Dr. Martin Michaelis. "Cisplatin is one of the most frequently used forms of chemotherapy, for childhood as well as adult malignancies."

These results support earlier findings by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that ONCONASE can overcome multiple drug resistance, the primary cause for systemic chemotherapy failure.

"These findings have opened a new direction in the research and development of ONCONASE as a novel anti-cancer agent, particularly against chemotherapy-resistant tumors in the pediatric cancer population," said Dr. Stan Mikulski, Medical Director of Alfacell Corporation.

ONCONASE (ranpirnase) is a ribonuclease anti-cancer drug developed from the eggs of Rana pipiens, the leopard frog. Ribonuclease enzymes degrade RNA and interrupt protein synthesis, resulting in the inhibition of cell growth and the induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Rhabdomyosarcoma accounts for approximately 15% of all sarcomas (malignant mesenchymal tumors). Embryonal rhabdomyosarcomas are the most common soft tissue sarcomas in children. Sarcomas are malignant tumors that begin in connective tissue or in tissue developed from the mesoblast (the middle layers of cells of an embryo), from which the skeletal, reproductive, muscular and vascular tissues develop.

Neuroblastoma (cancers of the embryonic cells from which the nerve cells develop) is the fourth most-common childhood malignancy, with an annual incidence of 10 cases per million children. In the United States, it comprises 8-10% of cancers diagnosed in children under 15 years of age. The median age at diagnosis is approximately two years. Half of the malignancies diagnosed in the first month of life and a third during the first year of life are neuroblastoma. The most common site of the primary tumor is within the abdomen and in the adrenal gland. Metastatic disease with predisposition to periorbital metastasis occurs in half the infants and two thirds of the older children who are diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. Thoracic tumors are more common in children less than one year old.

Alfacell Corporation is a leader in the research and development of ribonucleases for therapeutic applications, including anti-viral and anti-cancer.
 Alfacell can be found on the World Wide Web at

Contact: media, Jennifer Vollaro of Integrated Marketing Services, +1-609-683-9055, ext. 147,, for Alfacell Corporation; or investors, RJ Falkner & Company. Inc., Investor Relations Counsel, +1-800-377-9893,, for Alfacell Corporation

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 29, 2002
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