Synergen Inc.'s drug Antril seems to have some effect intreating the swollen joints associated with rheumatoid arthritis,according to results presented Monday at the annual meetingof the American College of Rheumatology in San Antonio, Texas.

A preliminary analysis of a Phase II clinical trial indicated thatAntril can reduce the number of swollen joints in arthriticpatients when given daily for three weeks.

The multicenter, double-blind Phase II trial was conducted tostudy different doses and dosing frequencies of the drug, whichis an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), in 175rheumatoid arthritis patients with active disease.

"This was a short-term trial with two parameters," explainedSynergen spokesman Paul Laland. During the three-weektreatment phase, nine patient groups received subcutaneousinjections of 20, 70 or 200 milligrams of drug either one, threeor seven times a week. All patients received placebo on daysthey didn't get the drug.

The researchers found that "daily dosing has significantly moreeffect than weekly injections," according to Giles Campion,director of clinical research at Synergen Europe. In fact, afterthree weeks of daily treatment, both clinicians and patientsreported a decrease in the number of swollen joints as well as areduction in the activity of the disease (which included hoursof morning stiffness of joints and the erythrocytesedimentation rate, a non-specific measure of inflammation).Moreover, the study results indicated that the higher doseswere more effective.

Synergen of Boulder, Colo., is already planning a second PhaseII trial in Europe in early 1994 to "better define the drug'sefficacy and optimal dose," Laland told BioWorld.

Synergen's stock (NASDAQ:SYGN) gained $1.25 a share onMonday, closing at $14.25.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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