The preliminary clinical trial data on Immunex's(NASDAQ:IMNX) combination cytokine PIXY321 therapy forameliorating the cytopenias caused by cancer chemotherapyindicate that it is able to cause an increase in the number ofwhite blood cells and in the platelet count.

The data were reported at an Immunex-sponsored satellitesymposium to the 34th Annual Meeting of the AmericanSociety of Hematology in Anaheim, Calif.

PIXY321 is a fusion protein consisting of the full-length codingregions of granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor(GM-CSF) and interleukin-3 (IL-3). Individually, GM-CSFenhances neutrophil recovery in clinical studies, and IL-3enhances platelet recovery. Together, they seem to achieveboth, according to the preliminary trial data. Carolyn Runowiczand associates at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine andMontefiore Medical Center in New York found that patientswith advanced-stage ovarian cancer who had previouslyreceived chemotherapy tolerated all doses of PIXY, from 50 to500 micrograms per square meter per day.

As well, studies at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, ledby Saroj Vadhan-Raj, have indicated that "PIXY321 was well-tolerated" by sarcoma patients who had undergonecombination chemotherapy. "At higher doses of PIXY32,significant reductions in both neutropenia andthrombocytopenia were seen."

"We're quite pleased with the results," Steven Gillis, presidentof Immunex R&D Corp. of Seattle, told BioWorld. "PIXY321 iswell-tolerated in patients, and it affects both neutrophil andplatelet recovery."

He added that Immunex has already started a randomizedplacebo-controlled trial for the drug, and anticipates additionalpivotal clinical trials throughout 1993 and into 1994.

When Immunex first discussed these results with analysts, onNov. 19, Wertheim Schroder analyst Jay Silverman repeated hisstrong buy rating on the company. The stock rose 63 cents to$47.87 the following day.

But following Friday's presentations, Vector SecuritiesInternational analyst Peter Drake gave Immunex a Neutralrating. "We believe the data presented were quite positive,"Drake said, but "the studies are not as yet completed."

Immunex's stock was down $1.88 a share on Tuesday to$44.38.120992PIXY321

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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

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