Progenics Pharmaceutical Corp. said Friday it licensed aganglioside conjugate vaccine that it intends to take intoPhase III studies in the first part of 1996 for treatment ofhigh-risk melanoma.

Terms of the licensing deal for the GMK vaccine withMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York,were not released. Separately, Progenics licensed fromCambridge Biotech Corp., of Worcester, Mass., theadjuvant QS-21 for use in GMK and other cancervaccines.

Gangliosides are molecules composed of carbohydratesand lipids on cell surfaces. The GM2 ganglioside ispresent on about 95 percent of melanoma cells, Progenicssaid. The GMK vaccine is a ganglioside conjugate withGM2 coupled to the carrier protein keyhole limpethemocyanin, formulated with QS-21. The GMK vaccineis designed to induce antibodies against GM2 gangliosidethat kills melanoma cells.

A 122-patient Phase II study showed those receivingGMK produced antibodies to the GM2 ganglioside.Those producing the antibodies had a highly significantincrease in disease-free survival and overall survival, saidPaul Maddon, chairman and CEO of Progenics.

Progenics, of Tarrytown, N.Y., plans to initiate Phase IIItrials of GMK in the first quarter of 1996 in Europe andthe U.S., Maddon said.

Next year is expected to be a busy one for Progenics.Maddon said the company expects to have all five of itsproducts in clinical studies next year. It also plans tofinalize at least one corporate partnership and perhapsfollow that up with an initial public offering.

A second ganglioside conjugate vaccine, MGV, is slatedto go into the clinic next year in other cancers. Thecompany's HIV imaging agent, ProScan-A, is in Phase I.PRO 367, a radiolabeled antibody similar to ProScan-A,also is expected to go into the clinic next year, as is anaked antibody, PRO 542, for HIV. n

-- Jim Shrine

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.