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Clinical Trial for Ovarian Cancer Patients Under Way at Fox Chase Cancer Center

PHILADELPHIA (February 1, 1999) -- Fox Chase Cancer Center is the only site in the region now testing a new immunotherapeutic designed to slow or delay the recurrence of ovarian cancer. It is estimated that in 1998, there were 25,400 new cases of ovarian cancer reported in the United States. Although initial surgery and chemotherapy are effective, recurrence is common. The therapeutic will be tested in women following chemotherapy to see how effective it is in delaying or preventing recurrence.

Women who qualify for the trial must have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and treated with standard first-line therapy (surgery and chemotherapy). In addition, qualifying women must show a rise in the level of CA-125 detected on routine blood tests after treatment. CA-125 is a tumor marker that may indicate early re-growth of ovarian cancer. Currently there is no proven treatment for women who develop an elevated CA-125 after initial chemotherapy, and it is common to delay further chemotherapy until there is more direct evidence of recurrent disease.

Women who choose to enter the trial will be randomized. Half of the women will receive the therapeutic upon entering the trial. The other half will receive a placebo, but will be eligible to receive the therapeutic at a later date. The trial is double-blinded, meaning neither the patient nor the doctor know whether the therapeutic or placebo are being given initially.

Michael A. Bookman, M.D., a medical oncologist at Fox Chase, is the principal investigator for this nationwide trial. "We understand that many women with ovarian cancer are quite anxious when they first develop a rise in CA-125. This study offers women a chance to receive a relatively non-toxic treatment that may delay the progression of their disease. Importantly, the therapeutic will not interfere with subsequent chemotherapy, and the potential delay in second-line chemotherapy may actually improve the likelihood of response when additional treatment is needed."

The immunotherapeutic, OvaRex MAb, is developed by AltaRex Corp. (Waltham, Massachusetts) and is believed to have few side effects. The therapeutic is based on Anti-idiotype Induction Therapy or AIT. The Company believes that AIT enhances the ability of the human immune system to produce a highly effective anti-tumor response. AIT(r) products are developed to target specific antigens that are associated with various cancers.

For more information about the study or how to enroll, call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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