Scientists at Immunex Corp. have cloned the convertaseenzyme that makes interleukin-1, and have pinpointed its geneto a region on chromosome 11 that is involved in certain formsof cancer.

The cytokine is implicated in septic shock, wound healing andthe growth of certain leukemias. "The finding that theconvertase gene maps to band 11q23 raises the possibility thataltered production of the (enzyme) contributes to some of thesedisease states," the scientists and colleagues at ThomasJefferson University in Philadelphia suggested Friday inScience.

The enzyme does not resemble any previously knownproteases,"which increases the likelihood that specificinhibitors can be developed" to block formation of IL-1 astherapy for the disease states in which it is implicated, theresearchers concluded.

The Seattle company (NASDAQ:IMNX) has developed aninhibitor for research purposes only, said Douglas Cerretti,senior staff scientist. Actual development of a therapeutic willbe done by Sterling Winthrop, a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak,which has collaborated with Immunex in the research.Immunex would receive royalties if a product is developed.

-- Roberta Freidman, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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