News from the 91st annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, which is being held in San Francisco:

¿ Avi Biopharma Inc., of Corvallis, Ore., presented preclinical data showing a Neugene drug significantly decreased tumor growth in mice and killed lung cancer cells in culture. Neugene is the company's third-generation antisense compound. The study showed that the antisense agent, Oncomyc-NG, significantly decreased cancer cells by inhibiting the c-myc protein, which is responsible for initiating cell replication in a variety of tissues. Avi is gearing up for a Phase I/II trial.

¿ Genta Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said follow-up data from more than one year showed six of 14 evaluable advanced malignant melanoma patients have shown antitumor responses to a combination of Genta's antisense agent G3139 and the chemotherapeutic agent DTIC. Serial biopsies showed G3139 markedly reduced its target protein (bcl-2) within tumor cells. Genta previously announced the launch of pivotal studies of this combination in this indication.

¿ ImClone Systems Inc., of New York, presented findings from two preclinical studies of its lead targeted cancer therapeutic, IMC-C225. In one trial IMC-C225, in combination with radiation, dramatically improved the efficacy of local tumor irradiation. In addition, the company said IMC-C225 showed highly selective antitumor activity in mouse models of human squamous cell head and neck cancer and human breast cancer. IMC-C225, a monoclonal antibody, targets and inhibits the epidermal growth factor receptor.

¿ Immunomedics Inc., of Morris Plains, N.J., reported that its scientists have made it possible to use a specific antibody that delivers the vaccine to the dendritic cells in the body. The company's approach eliminates the need to remove dendritic cells from the patient and then expose them with the antigens comprising vaccines. The company hopes to generate tumor vaccines that can be administered systemically and that target dendritic cells and other antigen-processing cells by creating fusion proteins between the specific antibody and antigens of various vaccine preparations.

¿ SuperGen Inc., of San Ramon, Calif. presented data from two preclinical studies. In one study, it was shown that mice responded well to therapy and suggested that aerosol delivery of anticancer drugs may be useful in the treatment of lung cancer. SuperGen's inhaled rubitecan was delivered to two sets of mice with lung cancer. In the second trial, rubitecan induced apoptosis in human prostate carcinoma cells. Scientists suggested that rubitecan regulates the suppression of c-FLIP, an inhibitory protein, and begins a series of events that cause cell death in DU145 human prostate carcinoma cells.

¿ Targeted Genetics Corp., of Seattle, presented data showing its Lipid Polycation DNA (LPD) gene delivery system is capable of delivering genes systemically when delivered intravenously. Intravenous delivery of tgLPD-E1A, the company's second-generation cancer therapeutic, inhibited tumor growth in animal models of two different human tumors.

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