Medarex Inc. said Wednesday that patients are being enrolled in aPhase I/II trial with MDX-240, the company's Bispecific antibody-based therapeutic for treatment of AIDS.The trial, expected to include 15 patients, will be conducted at theUniversite Catholique de Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, and theHospital Universitaire de Strasbourg in France. It is designed todetermine the safety and maximum tolerated doses of MDX-240, aswell as to get an indication of the product's ability to kill HIV andHIV-infected cells.MDX-240 combines two monoclonal antibodies, one that targets andbinds to gp41, a protein expressed on HIV and HIV-infected cells, anda trigger antibody that attaches to a receptor on immune cells. Thepatented trigger antibody binds to the receptor and the target cell at thesame time, triggering the receptor.Patients will be treated for two weeks, and five dose levels will betested, Donald Drakeman, president and CEO of Medarex, toldBioWorld. "We want to see results from the initial study, then we'lldetermine how to move forward from there," he said."One of the interesting and promising points," Drakeman said, "is thissame technology has been used in MDX-210 breast and ovarian cancertrials. It's shown to be well-tolerated and cause a significant anti-tumorresponse. The point of MDX-240 is to try to achieve that same sort ofimmune response against HIV using the same technology."Medarex, of Princeton, N.J., has two other Bispecific antibodies inclinical trials. MDX-210 completed a Phase I/II trial in breast andovarian cancer, and now is in Phase II. MDX-11 is in Phase II trials fortreatment of acute myeloid leukemia. And MDX-260 is in preclinicaltesting for melanoma, glioma and neuroblastoma.Medarex (NASDAQ: MEDX) stock closed Wednesday at $12.50 pershare, up 25 cents. _ Jim Shrine
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