Human Genome Sciences announces the discovery of a novel immune stimulant

s recovering from chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation may often have low levels of antibodies as a result of low numbers of B cells. In such situations antibody deficiency may last from months to years. One potential medical use of BLyS would be to shorten the recovery time for such patients. Another potential use might be to stimulate B cell growth in AIDS patients deficient in B cell production.

Use as a Vaccine Adjuvant
Vaccines work, in part, by inducing the production of antibodies that recognize invading organisms. Used as a vaccine adjuvant, BLyS may enhance the effectiveness of a wide range of vaccine candidates by strengthening the immune response through its ability to stimulate B cell production.

Treatment of B Cell Leukemia and Lymphoma
The discovery of a new growth factor specific for B cells may also lead to new treatments for leukemias and lymphomas that arise from abnormal proliferation of B cells. BLyS interacts with a specific structure on the surface of B cells called a receptor. Drugs that interfere with binding of BLyS to this receptor may kill or at least slow the growth of B cell tumors.

The Discovery of BLyS
BLyS represents the successful application of a new systematic, multi-step approach to drug discovery pioneered by HGS scientists. The first step of this process was to isolate and characterize a virtually complete set of human genes. A task completed at HGS by the end of 1995. The second step was to prepare a subset of human genes, those involved in cell to cell communication for analysis of their potential medical use. Each of these genes is available at HGS as a cDNA capable of producing a full-length protein. The next step in the process was to develop a high throughput system to test the biological function and potential medical utility of each of these proteins. Such a system is now in place at HGS. BLyS, one of the body's signaling molecules was fo

Contact: Kate de Santis
Human Genome Sciences, Inc.

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