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VIAGENE SCIENTISTS REPORT GENE THERAPY SUCCESSES IN ANIMAL CANCER MODELS TO TREAT CANCER

 VIAGENE SCIENTISTS REPORT GENE THERAPY SUCCESSES IN
 ANIMAL CANCER MODELS TO TREAT CANCER
 SAN DIEGO, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In a series of papers presented this week at the First International Conference on Gene Therapy of Cancer here, scientists at Viagene, Inc. reported encouraging results in animal models using gene therapy to treat cancer.
 In the first study, scientists modified tumor cells with lymphokine genes, such as gamma interferon. Addition of these genes resulted in the tumor cells becoming more antigenic, or "foreign," to the body. The modified tumor cells, after incorporation into a therapeutic vaccine, were then administered to mice where they proved successful in protecting the animals against subsequent challenge with viable tumor cells. Studies were performed using colon cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma cells.
 Other studies involved the use of gene transfer techniques to produce directly in the animal's body certain cancer-associated proteins. Various cancer models employing gene sequences for cancer- associated viral proteins as well as cancer-associated human proteins were disclosed. In all instances, direct vaccination with retroviral vectors containing these gene sequences resulted in significant protection of animals against challenge with viable tumor cells.
 The company believes that this is the first time that significant cell-mediated immune protection against cancer has been reported using direct gene transfer. Direct gene transfer techniques are considered more commercially viable than approaches that require cell culturing outside of the body. Viagene scientists believe that these gene therapy techniques achieve efficacy though enhanced stimulation of killer T- cells, or cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, the body's primary defense against viral infections and cancer.
 The company expects to begin human clinical trials with one of these approaches next year. This will complement Viagene's human clinical trial for its gene transfer product to treat HIV infection, which is being initiated currently. The HIV clinical trial represents the first gene transfer IND to have received a full commercial review, including Advisory Committee review, by the FDA. Clearance to proceed was granted in June 1992 following a unanimous recommendation to proceed by the Vaccines Advisory Committee.
 Viagene is a private biopharmaceutical company located in San Diego, that is pursuing the discovery, development, and manufacture of gene transfer drugs for the treatment of severe viral infections, cancers and other diseases.
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 /CONTACT: Robert T. Abbott, Ph.D., MBA, president and CEO of Viagene, 619-452-1288, or Anthony J. Russo, Ph.D., of Noonan-Russo Communications, 212-979-9180, for Viagene/ CO: Viagene Inc. ST: California IN: MTC SU:


TM-LD -- NY012 -- 2843 11/05/92 08:32 EST
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Date:Nov 5, 1992
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