(22nd Mar 2007) MerLion Pharmaceuticals and Merck Banyu enter a new drug discovery alliance Extension of four-year collaboration with Merck & Co Inc.

MerLion Pharmaceuticals (MerLion), the private drug discovery and development company headquartered in Singapore, and Banyu Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Banyu), a wholly owned Japanese subsidiary of Merck & Co Inc, announce the signing of a two year drug discovery and licensing agreement.

Under the new collaboration, MerLion and Banyu will seek to identify new drug candidates from MerLion's natural product sample collection utilising a range of validated targets in oncology and metabolic disease. MerLion has also extended its four year agreement with Merck & Co Inc. based around infectious disease targets.

Dr Tony Buss, CEO of MerLion, in announcing the agreement, said ”This new partnership with Banyu further strengthens MerLion's long relationship with the Japanese pharmaceutical industry. This, and the extension of our existing collaboration with Merck & Co in anti-infectives, reflects the industry-wide recognition that the diversity of chemistry found in natural product samples remains a vital source of new chemical entities for drug discovery.”

”We are hopeful that the expansion of our collaboration with MerLion will lead to the discovery of new drug leads in key therapeutic areas”, said Dr. Dennis Schmatz, Vice President, Merck Research Laboratories and Head of Tsukuba Research Institute, Banyu.

MerLion will receive revenues in the form of up-front payments and pre-defined milestones and royalties for the licensing of collaborative discoveries.

About MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd
MerLion Pharmaceuticals is a privately held international drug discovery and development company headquartered in Singapore. MerLion's activities are focused on the clinical development of its portfolio of novel antibiotics and the discovery of new drug candidates from the world's most diverse natural products sample collection.

The company also undertakes R&D activities alongside an outstanding portfolio of strategic partnerships containing many of the world's largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

MerLion has two novel drug candidates approaching clinical development and a balanced preclinical portfolio derived from its unique patent position in the area of bacterial virulence, its innovative screening approaches and access to the proprietary discovery technologies of its partners.

The company's current collaboration partners include Abbott Laboratories, Arpida SA, Astellas Pharma Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim, Cancer Research Technologies Ltd., Dow AgroSciences, Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, Sankyo Co Ltd. and Schering-Plough Research Institute.