CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- ImmunoGen Inc. said Phase I/II trials ofits Oncolysin M indicated the drug is effective in purging cancercells from the bone marrow of patients with acute myelogenousleukemia (AML).

The company said that of 11 patients evaluated (14 were in thestudy), five remain in complete remission, with durations offour to 20 months. Three patients were not evaluated becausetheir involvement in the study was too short to be of anysignificance.

The Cambridge, Mass., company (NASDAQ:IMGN) said there wasno depletion of the T or B white blood cells in the marrow,which indicates Oncolysin M specifically targets cancer cells.The study showed that diseased cells were eliminated,including cells in patients who did not enter remission. Resultsfrom the trials were presented at the third internationalsymposium on immunotoxins, held in Orlando, Fla. lastweekend.

Oncolysin M is used in conjunction with chemotherapy andradiation therapy for patients with AML. Bone marrow isextracted from the body, and while the patient undergoeschemotherapy and radiation treatment, the marrow is treatedwith Oncolysin M and then placed back into the patient. Thedrug targets cancer cells and completely eradicates the bonemarrow of them, the company said.

"Approximately 14,000 new cases of AML will be reported inthe United States and Canada this year," said Denis-Claude Roy,who is conducting part of the study at Maisonneuve-RosemontHospital in Montreal. "It is a fast-moving, life-threateningdisease with a high rate of relapse following initialchemotherapy, making it a good setting for intervention usingbone marrow transplant.

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