Scientists identify new vaccine targets for cancer-causing strains of human papilloma virus

New vaccine approach may help treat and prevent pre-cancerous lesions and cervical cancer

San Diego, CA March 27, 2001 Epimmune Inc. (Nasdaq: EPMN) announced today that Company scientists, in collaboration with Loyola University, Chicago, IL, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands, and University of Wales College of Medicine, Wales, UK, have identified new vaccine targets for cancer-causing strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV). The scientists reported in todays issue of the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research the discovery of four epitopes (protein fragments) from the virus that can induce a cellular immune response in human cells in vitro and may lead to an effective vaccine for treatment and prevention of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), pre-cancerous lesions that develop into cervical cancer.

An estimated 20 million Americans are infected with HPV, a virus that is well known for causing genital warts but also accounts for over 95 percent of cervical cancer cases. CIN lesions, which precede most if not all cases of cervical cancer, occur in over 50,000 women in the United States each year. Currently, CIN is detected by PAP smear and treated by surgical removal of the pre-cancerous lesions, a costly procedure that may result in reproductive complications and requires continual post-surgery monitoring for recurrence. Epimmune is developing a vaccine that is designed to bolster the immune system against HPV, potentially providing a new way to treat and prevent both CIN and cervical cancer.

"Previous research has indicated that a cellular immune response led by cytotoxic T cells is capable of controlling tumor growth and destroying virus-infected cells in HPV-infected patients," said Alessandro Sette, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Epimmune. "Our research shows that it may be possible to emulate this successful immune response with a vaccine that consists of epitopes from several

Contact: Laura Hansen

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