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Antisoma PLC (SRC)

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Monday 22 March, 2004

Antisoma PLC

R&D Update

Antisoma PLC
22 March 2004

                            Antisoma plc R&D update
                      AS1404 advancing to phase II trials
                 AS1405 starts clinical trials in brain cancer


London UK, 22 March 2004 - Antisoma plc (LSE: ASM), the biopharmaceutical
company specialising in the development of novel anti-cancer drugs, will today
hold an R&D update for analysts and investors. This will focus on a number of
the Company's earlier stage clinical and preclinical products.


Announced today
Two of the drugs covered in today's update are the subject of significant
progress announcements. AS1404 (DMXAA) has completed phase I studies and will
now move into phase II, while AS1405 (formerly AngioMab) has begun its first
phase I clinical trial. Though their actions are different, both drugs attack
cancer by targeting tumour blood vessels.


AS1404
The third and final phase I study of AS1404 as a monotherapy has been
successfully completed. This has provided data required to plan a phase II
programme of combination studies, which is scheduled to start during the second
half of 2004. AS1404 is considered most likely to provide a benefit when used
alongside other therapies. Separate trials will be conducted in different tumour
types, each combining AS1404 with an established cancer treatment. In at least
one of the trials AS1404 will be given with taxane drugs because this
combination has shown particular promise in preclinical work. AS1404 belongs to
a class of drugs called 'vascular targeting agents' which specifically disrupt
tumour blood vessels. The drug therefore has potential against a wide variety of
cancers.


AS1405
AS1405 has started its first trial in patients with a highly malignant brain
cancer called glioma. The phase I trial will provide information on safety,
dosing and distribution of the drug, as well as looking for any initial signs of
anti-tumour activity. Patients included in the study have suffered a relapse of
their glioma with regrowth of the tumour after their initial treatment. The
majority of the new tumour growth will be removed by surgery followed by an
injection of AS1405 into the cavity left in the brain. AS1405 is a radiolabelled
antibody that binds to a protein found around new tumour blood vessels. It
delivers a targeted dose of radiation with the aim of preventing or delaying the
relapse of cancer.


Because glioma is a relatively rare cancer, a so-called 'niche indication',
AS1405 is not included in Antisoma's alliance with Roche.  Antisoma intends to
pursue alternative routes to commercialisation, with the intention to maximise
its retained share of the product's value. Given the very poor results with
current treatments, Antisoma considers this an attractive opportunity. The
Company estimates that on the basis of the need for a suitable surgical history,
and taking together newly diagnosed patients and those with recurrent disease,
some 29,000 patients could be eligible for the treatment each year in North
America, Europe and Japan.


R&D update overview
Three external experts will speak on the background to Antisoma's AS1404, AS1405
and telomerase inhibitor programmes.


The background to vascular targeting agents, the class of drugs to which AS1404
belongs, will be provided by Prof Richard Begent of the Royal Free and
University College Medical School, UCL. He will consider the variety of ways to
attack tumour blood vessels and how drugs of this type can be combined with
other cancer treatments to maximise their effect.


Prof David Thomas, a neurosurgeon from The National Hospital for Neurology and
Neurosurgery in London, will talk about the issues in treating brain cancers.
Speaking in advance of the meeting, Prof Thomas said: 'Brain cancer is a huge
challenge; we can often operate to remove the bulk of the cancer, but we need
drugs that can be used alongside surgery to attack the cancer that we can't get
out. There's a lot of interest at the moment in targeted approaches such as the
use of monoclonal antibodies.'


Professor Stephen Neidle of the London School of Pharmacy will describe the
anti-cancer drugs known as telomerase inhibitors. He developed the programme of
telomerase inhibitors that Antisoma in-licensed from Cancer Research UK during
2003.


In addition to the external speakers, Dr Nigel Courtenay Luck, Chief Scientific
Officer of Antsioma, will highlight the broad potential of antibodies in cancer
treatment, illustrated by the ways in which Antisoma is adapting its antibodies
for use in different settings. These include development of naked antibody drugs
like R1550, radiolabelling approaches as used in R1549 and AS1405, linking of
apoptosis enzymes as in AS1406, and most recently the use of antibodies in
conjunction with cytokines, illustrated by the ATTACK programme under
co-development with EMD Lexigen Research Center of the US.


Speaking before the R&D update, Glyn Edwards, Antisoma's Chief Executive Officer
commented: 'The advances we have announced today for AS1404 and AS1405 show the
steady progress we are making in developing and broadening our clinical
pipeline. Today's event will also highlight the strong scientific foundations on
which our programmes and collaborations are based.'


Enquiries:
Glyn Edwards, Chief Executive Officer                   Tel: +44 (0)20 8799 8200

Ben Atwell/Julia Phillips, Financial Dynamics           Tel: +44 (0)20 7831 3113


About Antisoma
Based in London, UK, Antisoma is a biopharmaceutical company that develops novel
products for the treatment of cancer. The Company fills its development pipeline
by acquiring promising new product candidates from internationally recognised
academic or cancer research institutions.  Its core activity is the preclinical
and clinical development of these drug candidates. Antisoma forms partnerships
with pharmaceutical companies to bring its products to market.  In November
2002, Antisoma formed a broad strategic alliance with Roche to develop and
commercialise products from Antisoma's pipeline. Please visit www.antisoma.com
for further information about Antisoma.


                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange