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RIBI'S MELANOMA CANCER THERAPY IN SWOG STUDY FOR PREVENTION OF RECURRENCE OF MALIGNANT MELANOMA FOLLOWING SURGERY

 RIBI'S MELANOMA CANCER THERAPY IN SWOG STUDY


FOR PREVENTION OF RECURRENCE OF MALIGNANT MELANOMA FOLLOWING SURGERY
 HAMILTON, Mont., May 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) will conduct a large-scale Phase III human clinical study to determine the ability of MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine to prevent recurrence of disease following surgical removal of primary melanoma tumors in early-stage patients, Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc. (NASDAQ: RIBI) announced today. Approximately 30 percent of Stage II melanoma patients experience recurrent disease within five years of surgical removal of primary lesions, according to statistical data.
 In a Phase II activity study conducted by Ribi, the median survival of Stage IV terminally ill patients receiving MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine therapy was extended to approximately 23 months compared to median survival of 12 months for patients receiving chemotherapy. MELACINE(R) is currently in a Phase III clinical study to confirm if it provides extended survival over chemotherapy for patients with Stage IV disseminated melanoma. MELACINE(R) has been granted Orphan Drug Status as therapy for Stage III/IV melanoma.
 The SWOG study will compare the disease-free interval in two matched groups of melanoma patients, one group receiving MELACINE(R) following surgical removal of primary tumors and a control group receiving no therapy following surgery. Additionally, the study will compare overall survival of the two groups and determine the acceptability of MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine in early-stage patients.
 Melanoma, the eighth most prevalent form of cancer in the United States, has been increasing at an annual rate of 4 percent since 1974 and is the most rapidly increasing form of cancer in the United States. It has been estimated that by the year 2000 the lifetime risk for an American to develop melanoma will be approximately one in 75, compared to a current risk factor of one in 105 and a risk factor in 1935 of one in 1,500. Approximately 32,000 new cases will diagnosed in the United States in 1992, with approximately 6,700 deaths. Total prevalence in the United States is now estimated at 180,000 cases.
 "We are extremely gratified that SWOG is studying MELACINE(R)," said Robert E. Ivy, chief executive officer, president and chairman of Ribi ImmunoChem. "Researchers have been pursuing the development of cancer vaccines for more than 40 years. The development of MELACINE(R) therapy for late-stage melanoma is among the recent milestones in dealing with this aggressive disease. The potential use of MELACINE(R) to prevent recurrence is an exciting new dimension.
 "Although it will take several years to complete this study, we are excited about the potential expanded use of MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine," Ivy said. "The clinical results we have accumulated to date indicate that MELACINE(R) benefits late-stage patients with widespread disease by extending estimated median survival to 23 months from 12 months. In healthier, earlier-stage patients, the use of MELACINE(R) may provoke an immune response against recurrence, providing even greater long-term benefits. We are confident that the minimal side effects associated with MELACINE(R) will allow these patients to lead normal, high-quality lives."
 Active, specific immunotherapy is the rationale underlying the development of MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine. MELACINE(R) is administered to melanoma patients in an effort to provoke a response by the immune system to attack melanoma systemically in the body. MELACINE(R) melanoma theraccine incorporates DETOX(TM) adjuvant with antigen derived from human melanoma tumor cell lysates. The tumor cell lines used to manufacture the lysate have been licensed from the University of Southern California (USC). Malcolm S. Mitchell, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at USC, has been a principal investigator in the development and clinical testing of MELACINE(R).
 The Southwest Oncology Group is a major national consortium of institutions and investigators whose goal is to improve survival of adult cancer patients through clinical research. SWOG involves approximately 3,000 participating physicians at 34 member institutions and more than 250 affiliated institutions.
 Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc., a biopharmaceutical company founded in 1981, is a leader in the development of immunostimulants for use in preventing and treating human and animal diseases.
 -0- 5/19/92
 /CONTACT: Dr. Jon A. Rudbach, or Jeffrey S. McDowell of Ribi ImmunoChem, 406-363-6214/
 (RIBI) CO: Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc.; Southwest Oncology Group ST: Montana IN: MTC SU:


AH-DM -- SE001 -- 1647 05/19/92 08:36 EDT
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Date:May 19, 1992
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