Thursday, Oct 22, 1981
South San Francisco, Calif. -- October 22, 1981 --The first successful expression of immune interferon by recombinant DNA methods was reported today by Dr. David Goeddel of Genentech, Inc. in a scientific paper presented to the Second Annual International Congress for Interferon Research being held this week in San Francisco.
The scientific paper presented by Goeddel summarized the genetic-engineering process that led to immune interferon production in bacteria, yeast and mammalian cell culture. Goeddel said, "With the possibility of greatly increased quantities of immune interferon made available by recombinant DNA methods, the door is open for comprehensive investigations of potential therapeutic use. There is a great deal to be learned about the potential of this interferon before human clinical studies can begin."
Immune interferon, sometimes called gamma interferon, is produced naturally in the human body, but limited availability of the natural substance has prohibited extensive investigations. Adequate quantities of the immune interferon are necessary to determine the extent of its role in inhibiting the growth of tumor cells.
Research into interferons began with their discovery by scientists in 1957 and led to the premise that these natural proteins trigger anti-tumor and anti-viral mechanisms by interfering with cancer cell and virus replication. Extracting immune leukocyte interferons from human white blood cells yields only minute quantities of product for research purposes and is extremely costly.
Robert A. Swanson, President of Genentech, Inc., said of the immune interferon project:
"Our research with this inteferon is funded by two Japanese companies which will share exclusive rights for the product in Japan and possible other countries in Asia--- Daiichi Seiyaku Co., Ltd., a leading Japanese pharmaceutical company, and Toray Industries, Inc., a diversified industrial-chemical producer involved with health care products. Genentech has retained the rights for the rest of the world. AT this time, we are evaluating plans to market immune interferon ourselves in the United States and are considering contractual arrangements in other foreign markets."
Genentech, under an agreement with Hoffmann-La Roche, is producing fibroblast interferon and several subtypes of leukocyte interferon, and has been in Phase I human clinical study since January and, recently, Phase I studies were initiated with Leukoocyte "D" interferon.
Genentech is a leader in the development of recombinant DNA technology which involves genetically altering micro-organisms to produce specific substances such as interferons. The Company is developing products for the pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial-chemical markets. These include human growth hormone and human insulin which are in advanced stages of human clinical study.
Two products have been developed for the agricultural industry-- a vaccine for foot and mouth disease, which is currently undergoing testing, and bovine growth hormone, which is scheduled to enter field trials in the near future.
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