Immunex Corp. reported Monday that two of its solublecytokine receptors were found to work better than either alonein a rat model of arthritis.

Soluble TNF receptor and the receptor for IL-1 reducedhistopathology indices of joint swelling, and in combinationreduced the index even further, the Seattle-based companytold BioWorld.

Cindy Jacobs, assistant director for clinical affairs, said thecontrol score of 17 to 18 for pathologic changes in the animals'joints was lowered to 12 or 13 by either receptor alone, andthe combination cut the score to 6.

At the levels administered, the receptors would not beexpected to interfere with normal immune function, Jacobsadded. Excess cytokines driving inflammation would bemopped up, but physiological levels would remain in patientswith arthritis who would be candidates for a combinationtreatment.

The soluble cytokine receptors are intended to serve as decoysto divert excess immune messengers released in certain diseasestates.

Immunex (NASDAQ:IMNX) is testing the soluble IL-1 receptorin Phase I trials for rheumatoid arthritis and for allergy. Trialsin graft-vs.-host disease, sepsis and a form of leukemia areplanned by midyear. The TNF receptor will be tested alone,starting this summer, as a treatment for sepsis.

At the meeting of the Federation of American Societies forExperimental Biology on Monday, the company's scientists alsopresented preclinical data showing that the TNF receptor cutthe mortality rate by 90 percent in sepsis induced by bacterialendotoxin in mice. -- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D.

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