Interferon Sciences Inc. has published data showing that its gelformulation of recombinant alpha interferon speeded thecessation of herpes virus shedding.

The company-sponsored multicenter study compared a placebowith the topical treatment of recurrent genital herpes in 387patients. According to the New Brunswick, N.J., company, thetherapy caused a 25 percent decrease in the duration of viralshedding in men and 36 percent in women. The condition isthought to be most contagious during the shedding phase.

Male patients also benefited from "significant decreases in thetime to crusting, and the duration of pain and itching," thecompany reported.

The reason for lack of symptomatic improvement in women isunclear, wrote the study's principal author, Dr. M. Lebwohl ofMount Sinai Medical Center in New York. But he concluded inthe report published in the March Antiviral Research that"topical recombinant alpha-interferon, with its lack of toxicityand significant effects on viral shedding and symptomatology,appears to be a useful modality for treatment of recurrentgenital herpes."

The condition afflicts almost 30 million Americans, and300,000 to 500,000 new cases are reported annually. There isno therapy for eradicating the virus.

The company said further testing of the gel will use natural-source alpha interferon, which contains multiple subspecies ofinterferon as compared with the single-subspecie recombinantalpha-2B version used previously.

The stock (NASDAQ: IFSC) lost 13 cents to $8.13 on Tuesday. --Steve Usdin

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