IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corp. reported that 22 of 34 B-cell lymphomapatients treated with its genetically engineered antibody, IDEC-C2B8, experienced tumor shrinkage.The results came from the Phase II portion of a Phase I/II studybeing conducted by the San Diego company. The trial involved thosewith relapsed disease. Findings were presented Friday at the NinthAnnual Scientific Meeting on the Biological Therapy of Cancer inNapa, Calif.The drug is a pan-B antibody that attaches to CD20 antigens on thesurface of B cells, activating complement and macrophages to attackand destroy malignant B cells. Of the 34 patients who had a relapseof their low-grade or follicular non-Hodgkin's B-cell lymphoma,three exhibited complete response, 13 exhibited partial response(shrinkage greater than 50 percent) and six had minor responses(shrinkage between 25 and 50 percent).The 47 percent complete or partial response compares favorably tothe 44 percent response seen in two chemotherapeutic agents oftenused off label for the disease, and the mid-30 percent response seenfrom alpha-interferon, William Rastetter, president and CEO ofIDEC, told BioWorld."There's no reason we can't take this forward as a single-agenttherapy," he said. "It's as effective as a single agent aschemotherapies but without the myelosuppression" and other sideeffects. "The real uniqueness here is the ability to shrink tumorswithout damaging bone marrow."Rastetter said IDEC will discuss pivotal trial designs with the FDAover the next four to six weeks, intending to define a single-agenttrial strategy. A separate trial of IDEC-C2Bb is being tested in aPhase II trial in combination with chemotherapy.Antonio Grillo-Lopez, IDEC's vice president of medical andregulatory affairs, presented the findings at the cancer meeting. Hesaid side effects in the Phase II trial "were mild to moderate andreversible, consisting primarily of flu-like symptoms associated withthe first of four infusions." The antibody is infused weekly for fourweeks. Grillo-Lopez said there was no observed quantifiableevidence of antibody rejection, even after multiple infusions.IDEC's stock (NASDAQ:IDPH) was up 31 cents Friday, closing at$2.94 per share. n
-- Jim Shrine
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