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PHYTOPHARMACEUTICALS AND ENZON JOIN FORCES TO ENHANCE TAXOL'S POTENTIAL

 SAN CARLOS, Calif., Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- PHYTOpharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of ESCAgenetics Corp. (AMEX: ESN), and Enzon Inc. (NASDAQ-NMS: ENZN) today announced an exclusive research collaboration in the field of taxol and other taxoid compounds. The agreement involves the combination of Enzon's proprietary technology, PEGNOLOGY(sm), with PHYTOpharmaceuticals' proprietary chemical genetics tissue culture technology to develop more efficient anti-cancer drugs.
 "This collaboration expands the application of Enzon's technology from proteins to chemical drugs," explained R. Douglas Hulse, Enzon's vice president of business development, "and may yield major opportunities in the oncology market."
 Late last year, the FDA cleared Bristol-Myers Squibb to market taxol for use in treating advanced ovarian cancer. Taxol has also been shown in clinical studies to be effective in treating breast cancer, non-small- cell lung cancer, melanoma and colon cancer. Like other taxoid compounds, this product has experienced obstacles including the limited natural supply of taxol and patients' adverse reactions to taxol. ESCAgenetics addressed the supply problem by applying its proprietary phytoproduction cell tissue culture technology to produce taxol in the laboratory in higher concentrations than found in yew bark. This taxol tissue culture development is currently being scaled up in a collaboration with Genencor International Inc. Products based on Enzon's and PHYTOpharmaceuticals' proprietary technologies may overcome the obstacles facing taxol.
 Patients who have been administered current taxoid compounds have experienced hypersensitivity reactions, drug resistance, certain toxicities and poor solubility, requiring prolonged IV infusions. Enzon scientists have been evaluating the combination of PEGNOLOGY with taxol to overcome the current taxol problems. Dr. Abraham Abuchowski, Enzon's president and chief executive officer, presented research data on the biological activity and increase in water solubility of the PEG-modified taxol at the American Chemical Society meeting in Chicago on Aug. 26, 1993.
 PEGNOLOGY involves the attachment of polyethylene glycol (PEG) to a protein or chemical drug with the goal of disguising the compound and reducing its recognition by the body. Hairlike strands of PEG are believed to prevent recognition of the compound by the immune system, while allowing the intended target to bind to the compound's active sites. The compound thus performs its therapeutic mission longer, with reduced incidence of allergic reactions.
 "This collaboration exhibits the power of combining technologies and what it can mean to helping mankind and our environment. Product developed from this collaboration may provide powerful tools for cancer therapy," said Dr. Tom Glenn, president and chief operating officer of PHYTOpharmaceuticals.
 Enzon is a biotechnology company developing advanced therapies for life-threatening diseases through the application of its proprietary technologies, PEGNOLOGY(sm) and Single-Chain Antigen-Binding (SCA)(TM) proteins. The company's development activities focus on blood substitutes, cancer therapy and genetic diseases. The company also pursues commercialization of its technologies through strategic alliances.
 PHYTOpharmaceuticals is a plant-based drug discovery company that combines biotechnology and biodiversity for the discovery, development and commercialization of novel human therapeutics, based upon a comprehensive plant-sourcing and pharmacological screening program. PPI's resources include plant collection and certified extract production laboratories in China, Brazil and Thailand, some of the most diverse regions of the world. ESCAgenetics Corp. is a publicly traded company that develops and produces high-value, plant-derived products for the pharmaceutical and food industries.
 -0- 8/30/93
 /CONTACT: Thomas M. Glenn, president and chief operating officer of PHYTOpharmaceuticals, 415-595-5335; or Raymond J. Moshy, president and chief executive officer of ESCAgenetics Corp., 415-595-5335/
 (ESN ENZN)


CO: PHYTOpharmaceuticals Inc.; Enzon Inc.; ESCAgenetics ST: California IN: MTC SU:

TM-CB -- SF005 -- 7349 08/31/93 08:30 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 31, 1993
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