A bacterial product shows promise as a potential cure ofKaposi's sarcoma, the skin condition associated with AIDS,according to reports today in Science.

A team including researchers at Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co. ofJapan reported that the bacterial component can heal Kaposi'slesions in mice and is non-toxic, unlike existing treatments forthe skin condition.

An accompanying news report said that the Japanese companyhas purified and is completing preclinical testing of thenaturally occurring, cell wall polysaccharide-peptidoglycan,obtained from an Arthrobacter species of bacteria.

Accompanying reports provide a better understanding of howcytokines work in Kaposi's and present a possiblebiotechnology route to treating the disease.

The biotech researchers showed that an inhibitor of Kaposi'sgrowth closely resembles Oncostatin M, a protein originallydiscovered at Oncogen, now called Bristol Myers SquibbPharmaceutical Research Center. The researchers includedscientists at the Seattle-based research center.

Although first characterized as inhibiting tumor growth,Oncostatin M is now found to spur Kaposi's in lab culture.Interleukin-6 was also known to play a role in Kaposi's.

Immunex Corp. of Seattle reported solving these puzzles,demonstrating in an accompanying article that Oncostatin M isable to act at the same family of receptors as that activated byIL-6 and a protein called leukemia inhibitory factor. -- RobertaFriedman, Ph.D.

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