(6th May 2003) MerLion Pharmaceuticals and NovImmune Announce Drug Discovery Collaboration

SINGAPORE and GENEVA, May 6, 2003 -MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte. Ltd. (MerLion Pharma) and NovImmune S.A. (NovImmune) today announced the initiation of a collaboration for the discovery and development of drugs for use in immunosuppression and immunomodulation.

The collaboration builds on NovImmune's experience in the identification, validation and development of novel proprietary therapeutic targets in the areas of inflammation, autoimmune diseases, immunosuppression and immunomodulation and MerLion Pharma's world class natural product collection, assay development, high throughput screening and medicinal chemistry capabilities.


"NovImmune is delighted to be collaborating with MerLion who have established themselves as a pre-eminent player in natural product drug discovery", said Jack Barbut, CEO of NovImmune. "The partnership is a powerful combination of exciting, new and highly validated targets and outstanding chemical diversity supported by world class chemistry and two great teams."

"The collaboration with NovImmune underscores the continuing importance of natural products in drug discovery and in particular the area of immunomodulation", said Dr. Tony Buss, CEO of MerLion Pharma. "We are delighted to be working with NovImmune who have developed a range of exciting targets which may lead to new classes of therapeutic agents. "

Under the terms of the agreement, NovImmune will contribute its biochemical and cell-based assays for specific regulators of immune response genes as targets for MerLion Pharma to screen against its sample collection. Resulting discoveries will be jointly developed and shared by the two companies. Other terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

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, Athelas S.A., Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., Genome Therapeutics, Johns Hopkins (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., KuDOS Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Merck and Co, 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 over 60 employees and occupies 20,000 square feet of labs and offices in the Singapore Science Park.

More information on MerLion Pharma can be found on the company's Web site at www.merlionpharma.com.
NovImmune SA is a privately held Swiss company actively involved in the development of therapeutic agents for inflammation, the treatment of autoimmune diseases, immunosuppression and immunomodulation. Founded in Switzerland in 1998, NovImmune uses its novel proprietary technologies to develop therapeutic solutions based on recently identified novel targets in the human immune system. NovImmune's mission is to develop novel drug treatments for type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, inflammation, septic shock, tissue rejection after transplantation, and other debilitating immune conditions. The company successfully completed a first round of financing of 15 million CHF in May 2000.