A monoclonal antibody developed by Synbiotics Corp. to treatlymphoma in dogs has been licensed for immediate sale by theU.S. Department of Agriculture.

The company on Tuesday said the drug was the firstimmunotherapeutic monoclonal antibody to be approved tofight cancer in animals.

Initial trials show that use of the drug in conjunction withchemotherapy increases the life expectancy of dogs withlymphoma to 17 months, compared with six to 10 months withchemotherapy alone. Untreated dogs do not usually survivelonger than four to six weeks.

The San Diego company has not disclosed its price or estimatedthe size of the market for the drug. But the company estimatesthat more than 60,000 dogs each year are diagnosed as havinglymphoma. Currently, 20,000 of these receive conventionalchemotherapy.

Synbiotics (NASDAQ:SBIO) will be the sole manufacturer andmarketer of the monoclonal, MAB 231.

MAB 231 is the first drug developed as a result of Synbiotics'licensing agreement with The Wistar Institute of Philadelphia.In January 1990, Synbiotics gained exclusive worldwidemarketing rights to animal health applications of Wistarresearch. Wistar focuses on cancer and diseases of the centralnervous system.

Although MAB 231 is a mouse antibody, Synbiotics hasn't seenthe same problems with immune responses to MAB 231 in dogsthat monoclonals often cause in humans, said Norman White,Synbiotics' chief financial officer.

Synbiotics isn't aware of any competitor developing a similarproduct, said White.

The USDA license was granted on condition that Synbioticscomplete ongoing clinical trials. The company expects to beginmarketing MAB 231 within two months. Synbiotics stock(NASDAQ:SBIO) closed Tuesday at $4.13, up 63 cents.

-- Rachel Nowak Washington Bureau Chief

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