Genetics Institute announced Tuesday that Phase I clinicalstudies indicate that its macrophage colony stimulating factor(M-CSF) lowers blood cholesterol in cancer patients.

M-CSF, under development to reduce the white blood cell-killing side effects of cancer treatment, reduced bloodcholesterol by as much as 40 percent in some patients. WhenM-CSF therapy was stopped, cholesterol levels returned totheir original values.

M-CSF stimulates white blood cell growth. The mechanism bywhich it lowers cholesterol is under investigation, saidspokeswoman Clare Midgley. Later this year GI plans to beginclinical trials of M-CSF in patients with excessively highcholesterol levels.

The Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday issued GI patentNo. 5,021,239 for the use of M-CSF as a cholesterol-loweringagent. Last week the company received patent No. 5,019,381for the use of GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage colonystimulating factor) for the same purpose. Schering-PloughCorp. is developing GI's GM-CSF.

GI also announced Tuesday that its bone-inducing protein BMP-2 stimulates the repair of jaw bone defects in animals. Dr.Dean Toriumi of the University of Illinois College of Medicinein Chicago reported at last month's American Society for Headand Neck Surgery Meeting in Hawaii that small amounts ofBMP-2 implanted in a matrix carrier completely healed a largegap in the jawbone. The repaired bone was identical to normalbone with respect to appearance, stability, strength and bonemarrow development, said Midgley.

GI, which has identified at least seven bone-inducing proteins,has focused on BMP-2 with the goal of beginning clinical trialsof the compound in 1992, said Midgley. The company expectsthe protein to be a substitute for bone transplants and torepair non-union bone fractures and damage associated withperiodontal disease and cancer.

In May, GI received patent No. 5,013,649 covering BMP-2,related protein BMP-4 and recombinant production methods. GIalso has a patent, issued in 1989, for BMP-1.

GI's stock (NASDAQ: GENI) closed Tuesday at $33.75, up $1.

-- Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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