Summary: Results of an ongoing clinical study of a mismatched double-stranded (ds) RNA, termed Ampligen, in patients with metastatic cancer are described. In a pilot study of Ampligen (lot 1) involving mostly hematologic malignancies, patients received cumulative doses up to approximately 450 mg without untoward effects. Evidence of biologic/antitumor effects was observed (3/5 patients) by monitoring tumor-specific markers or tumor cell morphology. In patients with solid tumors receiving lot 2, Ampligen cumulative doses over 4 g were well tolerated. The drug was given by intravenous infusion (10-80 mg/infusion, twice weekly), in some instances for more than 1 year, without clinically significant side effects. Specifically, no evidence of hematologic, liver, or renal toxicity, which was previously noted with other dsRNAs, was observed. Side effects consisted of occasional mild fatigue or flu-like symptoms. Fever, when encountered, was transient and low grade (<100.5[degrees]F). Importantly, an analysis of patient sera for dsRNA antibodies revealed that no patient had evidence of specific antibodies directed against Ampligen. Other dsRNAs cause up to a 60% incidence of antibody formation. Additionally, a novel method was developed to monitor Ampligen blood levels. In a survey of seven patients, Ampligen had a mean plasma half-life of 23 min. Ampligen administration can also result in activation of both natural killer (NK) cells and a lymphocyte, interferon-associated, intracellular enzyme. Dose-dependent antitumor effects were seen in several solid tumors; in doses of 10-40 mg, 3/9 patients showed stable disease for up to 1 year. At the 80-mg dose level, 2/5 patients showed tumor regressions (mixed and partial responses). Recent studies, currently underway, indicate that 200 mg/dose can result in a complete response within 6-8 weeks in renal cancer.
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