AntiCancer Inc. presented data on Thursday and Friday that showedits gene therapy treatment resulted in remissions in six of 10advanced lung cancer patients. The San Diego company said it wasthe world's first gene therapy trial in lung cancer.

The trial was conducted by Chinese partner Habrin MedicalUniversity in that country. Results were reported in a poster sessionat the Third International Conference of Gene Therapy for Cancer inSan Diego.

Patients were given interleukin-2 to stimulate their immune systemsagainst their tumor. Andrew Perry, president of the company'sDiagnostics Group, told BioWorld that six of the patients' symptomsimproved for at least six months. "In these six cases it was really acomplete disappearance of the pleural effusions.

"The key is if you can get the effusions down, then you can useradiation to shrink the tumor, then maybe use surgery to remove it,"Perry said. "One of the gratifying things about the trial was the lackof side effects," which he said consisted of one patient whoexperienced a slight rise in temperature.

AntiCancer wants to push forward in China with Habrin'sformulation, and also to use its proprietary liposomes for the vector."That's the key for bringing it onshore (the trial to the U.S.)," saidPerry, adding that he also wants to use liposomes for direct deliveryof the gene in China.

"Getting this kind of efficacy in the first part of the trial really givesus proof of the concept," Perry said.

AntiCancer signed a deal with Habrin in November 1993 that gavethe U.S. company rights to anti-metastasis genes, initially AGZY-1and AGZY-2. Perry said those are still in the development stage.

The company's next product to enter the clinic will be ONCase, ananti-cancer drug using a new pathway, methionine inhibition, in vivoto selectively prevent tumor growth. Perry said a Phase I trial isexpected to start in Europe early next year. _ Jim Shrine

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