(19th Jul 2007) Singapore's biodiversity provides potential natural drug cures

Singapore, 19 July 2007 - International drug discovery and development company, MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd (MerLion) and the National Parks Board of Singapore (NParks) have signed a new agreement to combine the unique expertise and capabilities of MerLion with the extensive drug discovery potential of Singapore's diverse plants, animals and micro-organisms.

Based upon its unique capabilities and extensive natural sample collection, MerLion has a premier position in natural products based drug discovery. Its library of more than 100,000 microorganisms will be increased by the new agreement with the NParks that will enable MerLion to extend its Singapore-derived collection of samples. This agreement also reflects MerLion's continuing commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity by recognising the sovereign right of signatory countries to ownership of the organisms collected, stored and identified by MerLion's scientists. This collaboration with Merlion is a recognition of Singapore's rich biological diversity.

"Singapore's biological diversity is very rich. Despite being a city-state of less than 700 km2 in land area, we have more than 2,300 species of trees, which in turn sustain eco-systems for a rich diversity of animals and microorganisms. We are pleased to partner MerLion to realise the commercial potential of our biodiversity, and look forward to fruitful outcomes," said Chief Executive Officer of NParks, Mr Ng Lang.

Dr Tony Buss, Chief Executive Officer of MerLion said, "A 2007 National Institutes of Health (NIH) study reveals that drug candidates derived from naturally occurring chemistry account for more than 75% of drugs introduced worldwide between 1981 and 2006 1. Such chemistry, generated by microorganisms and plants, continues to play a key role in drug candidate pipelines with a significant number of such naturally derived compounds currently in late stage clinical development"2 3 4.

1 Newman D, Cragg G: J. Natural Products March 23 2007
2 Newman D, Cragg G: Curr Med Chem. 2004 Jul;11(13):1693-713
3 Butler M: Nat Prod Rep. 2005 Apr;22(2):162-95
4 Butler M, Buss A: Biochem Pharmacol. 2006 Mar 30;71(7):919-29

Notes to the Editors

About MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd

MerLion Pharmaceuticals is a privately held international drug discovery and development company headquartered in Singapore.

MerLion has a balanced portfolio of assets that includes several clinical stage candidates, a unique patent position in the area of bacterial virulence, innovative screening approaches and access to the proprietary discovery technologies of its many partners.

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

Visit http://www.merlionpharma.com to learn more about MerLion.

About National Parks Board

National Parks Board (NParks) is responsible for providing and enhancing greenery of the Garden City. Beyond green infrastructure, NParks is committed to enhance the quality of life through creating memorable recreational experiences and lifestyles.

NParks manages more than 300 parks, the park connector network and the lush roadside greenery in Singapore. Some of the parks managed include Singapore Botanic Gardens, Fort Canning Park, East Coast Park, Bishan Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Pulau Ubin Recreation Area. In addition, NParks manages nature reserves such as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

As Singapore's scientific authority on nature conservation, NParks monitors and coordinates measures to ensure the health of designated nature areas.

NParks is also the lead agency in the efforts to continually upgrade the Landscape Industry in Singapore. It works closely with industry partners to promote good work practices and create a thriving, creative, innovative and professional industry that will support Singapore's aspirations of being a City in the Garden.

For more information, log on to: www.nparks.gov.sg.

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