Human Genome drug to be more widely tested It blocks toxic effects of chemotherapy

November 18, 1998|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Human Genome Sciences Inc., the Rockville biotechnology firm, will announce today that it is moving an experimental treatment to prevent the toxic effects of chemotherapy into larger human trials to assess the drug's effectiveness.

The company's myeloid progenitor inhibitory factor treatment is being developed to prevent the toxic effects of chemotherapy on bone marrow.

Kate DeSantis, a company spokeswoman, said the company found in a small study on healthy volunteers that the treatment had no significant side effects.

Human Genome, she said, has begun enrolling patients with breast and ovarian cancers in studies at several U.S. medical centers.

The company also hopes to determine in the Phase II trial what doses of the drug are most effective and how best to administer the treatment.

In the trial, cancer patients will be given the treatment before the start of their chemotherapy. The drug, made from a protein responsible for regulating production of the progenitor -- or stem VTC cells -- for bone marrow, is expected to turn off cell production temporarily, thereby avoiding a number of side effects from chemotherapy.

An estimated 400,000 people in the United States will be treated with chemotherapy this year, according to the American College of Surgeons' National Cancer Database.

William A. Haseltine, Human Genome's chairman and chief executive officer, said the experimental treatment validates the company's approach to developing medical treatments from its large database of genetic information.

Yesterday, shares in Human Genome closed unchanged at $32.875.

Pub Date: 11/18/98

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