A U.S. patent was issued Tuesday to Immunex Corp. for itsfusion molecule, a combination of two immune proteins thatmay prove more powerful than either used alone.

The patent, No. 5,073,627, covers configurations of analogs ofthe proteins GM-CSF and IL-3, immune system messengers thatthe company (NASDAQ:IMNX) is developing to treat blooddeficiencies induced by chemotherapy. It also covers thesegment of amino acids that links the molecules.

The company said it also received a notice of allowance for asecond patent covering DNAs, recombinant processes andmaterials used to manufacture the fusion proteins.

The patent covers a linked molecule, called PIXY321, that willoffer lower dose and lower cost in treating white blood cell andplatelet losses incurred from cancer therapies, companyofficials predicted.

Merrill Lyncy analyst Stuart Weisbrod characterized the patentissued to "my favorite company" as positive news, "but sort of ayawn until they show it does something."

In October, Immunex began a Phase I trial of PIXY321 insarcoma patients who are receiving it before and afterchemotherapy.

This week the company starts another Phase I trial of thefusion protein in gastrointestinal cancer; a third Phase I studyin solid tumors will begin in January.

Immunex stock gained $1.75 to $53.75 on Tuesday. -- RF

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