The Ares-Serono Group said Friday that six-month results of aninterim study on its native human interferon beta for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis showed a 67 percent reduction in thenumber of active lesions as measured in magnetic resonance imagingscans.

The Geneva, Switzerland, company is conducting the trial in Spain.It reported the interim data at the 10th Annual Meeting of theEuropean Committee for Treatment and Research of MultipleSclerosis in Athens, Greece.

The company calls its native human interferon beta Frone, which ismarketed in more than 13 countries for a variety of indications.

Ares-Serono's Spanish trial included 60 patients randomized to twogroups. The treatment group was given Frone injectedsubcutaneously three times per week. The other group was switchedfrom no treatment to the same schedule as the treatment group aftersix months.

Fifty-nine percent of the treatment group remained exacerbation-freeduring the treatment period compared to 31 percent in the controlgroup. The number of patients with severe exacerbations was 14percent in the interferon group compared to 38 percent in the controlgroup.

About half the patients suffered mild flu-like symptoms, and 30percent had injection-site reactions.

Ares-Serono said its multiple sclerosis program includes more than1,000 patients being treated in more than 15 countries. It includesfive Phase II/III trials with both its native and recombinant betainterferon. Company officials did not return calls from BioWorldFriday. _ Jim Shrine

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