Seragen Inc. will file in midyear to begin Phase II trials of itssecond-generation DAB 389 Interleukin-2 Fusion Toxin as atreatment for certain leukemias and lymphomas and severerheumatoid arthritis, the company said Wednesday.

The Hopkinton, Mass., company (NASDAQ:SRGN) also plans tobegin Phase I trials of its IL-2 fusion toxin to treat Crohn'sdisease, and preclinical trials in an animal model of ulcerativecolitis, but dates have not yet been set, said spokeswomanHelen Maslocka.

The company's fusion toxins use diphtheria toxin molecules,which are rendered non-toxic by stripping the portion of themolecule that binds to cell walls, and genetically fuses themwith a hormone or growth factor that targets specific cellsurface receptors on disease-causing cells.

In vitro results, presented Wednesday at the AmericanGastroenterological Association meeting in San Francisco,showed that the IL-2 fusion toxin kills activated lymphocytesassociated with the onset of Crohn's disease. Crohn's, a painful,incurable disease that can inflame the small or large intestines,may be an autoimmune disorder. According to Seragen, thereare 500,000 to 1 million cases of Crohn's in the U.S., and up to75 percent of patients require at least one operation.

Seragen's first- generation compound, DAB 486 IL-2 is now inPhase I/II trials for recent onset type I diabetes. -- Kris Herbst

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