(27th Jan 2003) KuDOS Pharmaceuticals and MerLion Pharmaceuticals embark on research collaboration

CAMBRIDGE, UK, and SINGAPORE - January 27, 2003 -- KuDOS Pharmaceuticals (KuDOS) and MerLion Pharmaceuticals (MerLion Pharma), today announced that they have entered into a 2-year drug discovery and preclinical research collaboration.

The collaboration will bring together MerLion's vast library of natural product compounds and KuDOS' validated targets to select lead candidates in the area of HPV-induced cervical cancer. MerLion will have responsibility for identifying and characterising active substances from their library against KuDOS assays and KuDOS will then progress the compounds through initial pharmacological screening. The two companies will share the research, managed by a joint KuDOS-MerLion research committee. Commercial terms of the collaboration were not released.

Barrie Ward, CEO of KuDOS said of the collaboration, "Working with MerLion provides us the opportunity to progress a novel therapeutic approach to preventing HPV-induced cervical cancer utilising one of the worlds most diverse natural product libraries. We are looking forward to a successful and productive collaboration."

"The collaboration brings together the key components for effective drug discovery, including an extensive array of chemical diversity together with a novel therapeutic approach." said Tony Buss, CEO of MerLion Pharma. "We are very pleased to be working with KuDOS and anticipate a successful collaboration that will contribute to the discovery of novel medicines for use in this important therapeutic area".

 

For more information please contact:
MerLion Pharmaceuticals
Dr. Antony David Buss, CEO
Tel: +65 6829 5600

KuDOS Pharmaceuticals
Barrie Ward, CEO
Richard Onyett, Commercial Director
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 719719

Notes to editors:

Cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women with approximately 371,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide each year. The annual death rate is 190,000. Although detection of cervical cancer has drastically improved in developed countries with the advent of the Pap (Papanicolau) smear, there is still no way of targeting the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the cause of all but 5% of cervical cancer cases. The HPV contains two "oncogenes" E6 and E7 which, when expressed, deactivate the tumour suppressor gene products p53 and pRB, respectively. In this state the cell does not enter programmed cell death, a normal process of cell aging, but continues to replicate forming tumours.

MerLion Pharmaceuticals

MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte. Ltd. is a privately held Singapore-based company, focusing on the discovery and development of new drug candidates from natural sources. The company's assets and capabilities include an outstanding natural product sample collection, advanced high throughput screening technology, assay development and medicinal chemistry capabilities.
MerLion Pharma collaborates with leading pharmaceutical companies, biotechs and research institutes to identify and develop drug leads in a wide range of therapeutic areas. The company's other current collaboration partners include Abbott Laboratories, Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., Johns Hopkins (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., and the National Cancer Centre (Singapore). MerLion Pharma is also developing and commercializing lead compounds emerging from its own discovery programmes. MerLion Pharma is staffed by 60 employees and occupies 20,000 square feet of labs and offices in the Singapore Science Park. More information may be found on the company's website www.merlionpharma.com

KuDOS Pharmaceuticals(www.kudoxpharma.co.uk)
KuDOS Pharmaceuticals is a leader in the discovery and development of novel small molecule drugs that target DNA repair enzymes and signalling pathways for the treatment of human diseases, in particular cancer. Recent developments have greatly improved the understanding of the mechanisms used by cells to identify and repair breaks in DNA. Potential applications for drugs that target DNA repair additionally extend to treatment of viral disease, ischaemia and immunosuppression.

KuDOS currently has two drugs in clinical trials: PatrinTM, which is being developed for the treatment of cancers resistant to aklylating agents, and AQ4N, which targets hypoxic regions of tumours. In addition, the company has a considerable early stage pipeline resulting from strong links with the academic laboratory of Professor Stephen Jackson of the Wellcome/Cancer Research UK Institute in the University of Cambridge and other academic experts.
 

KuDOS is privately funded and completed a third round of private equity funding for £29.5M ($47.7M) in the third quarter of 2002. This round was lead by Euclid SR Partners and other new investors included LSP-Life Sciences Partners, BankInvest Biomedical Venture and Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation. KuDOS' existing shareholders, Advent Venture Partners, Schroder Ventures Life Sciences and 3i Group plc also contributed; an indication of their long-term support of KuDOS.