HAMILTON, Mont. -- Ribi Immunochem Research Inc. said thatit was awarded a U.S. patent covering derivatives ofmonophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) immunostimulant.

The patent, U.S.P. 4,987,237, covers composition and the meansto prepare various derivatives of MPL. These derivatives maybe linked to other biologically active molecules, includingantigens, other immunomodulators, fluorescent probes andantibodies.

MPL is an attenuated form of the endotoxin produced by gram-negative bacteria, said Kent Myers, a Ribi research scientist andthe first-named inventor on the patent. A potent activator ofthe immune system, endotoxin was chemically modified by Ribiresearchers to retain this ability while eliminating its harmfuleffects, Myers said.

Ribi developed an MPL conjugate using a peptide antigen,which it aims to use as the basis for more potent vaccines.

In Phase I/II studies of MPL in surgical patients who were athigh risk of developing septic shock, infection rates dropped to12 percent from a normal rate of 35 percent, said Robert Ivy,Ribi's president and chief executive officer.

Ribi said it is talking with several potential co-marketingpartners for MPL. -- Karen Bernstein

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