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Helicon Therapeutics Exercises Option to License Compound For Memory Disorders from Inflazyme

Helicon Therapeutics Exercises Option to License Compound For Memory Disorders from Inflazyme

Business & Health/Medical Editors

RICHMOND, British Columbia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jan. 22, 2003

Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (TSX:IZP), and Helicon Therapeutics Inc. of New York, today announced that Helicon has exercised its option to license an Inflazyme compound, IPL455,903. The compound is to be developed by Helicon as a potential new drug for memory disorders.

The key elements are:

— In February 2001 Inflazyme and Helicon entered into a collaboration to identify a development candidate for the treatment of cognitive disorders from Inflazyme’s proprietary library of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitors. In August 2002 Helicon advised Inflazyme that pre-clinical studies performed by Helicon scientists had confirmed that IPL455,903 is active in models of learning and memory and may have therapeutic potential as a new treatment for selected cognitive disorders.

— On January 21, 2003 Helicon exercised its option and paid US$250,000 to Inflazyme to license IPL455,903 and will now initiate development of this compound for the treatment of disorders of cognitive function related to memory.

— Inflazyme and Helicon will establish a joint research committee to plan and oversee development of IPL455,903. Inflazyme may supply certain development resources to Helicon, at Helicon’s cost.

— Inflazyme has the option to form a 50/50 joint venture with Helicon for further development and subsequent commercialization of the compound. Inflazyme may elect to exercise this option before the completion of a Phase IIa clinical study. If Inflazyme does not exercise this option, Helicon will be responsible for continued development at its cost and will pay Inflazyme royalties on any product commercialized.

About IPL455,903

IPL455,903 is an orally active inhibitor of the enzyme PDE4. IPL455,903 was developed by Inflazyme scientists as part of a general inflammatory research program to identify PDE4 inhibitors that may block the process of inflammation. Inflazyme’s PDE4 inhibitors have been developed from an original pharmacophore identified in a plant native to British Columbia.

Ian McBeath, President and CEO of Inflazyme today said, “This is a very exciting and important step forward for Inflazyme. We have now expanded our technology base into another significant area, that of cognitive and inflammatory disorders of the brain. Our partner Helicon brings considerable expertise and intellectual property whilst we are supplying a unique and active molecule.”

John Tallman, President and CEO of Helicon said, “This agreement has provided an opportunity for Helicon to advance its first product candidate towards clinical development. We are very pleased with our relationship with Inflazyme.”

What are disorders of cognitive function?

Cognitive dysfunction is a broad term encompassing a wide array of conditions related to brain disorders such as stroke-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive disorders, including Mild Cognitive Impairment, Age Related Cognitive Decline and Age Associated Memory Impairment, are significant unmet medical needs in an aging population.

PDE4 inhibitors and their potential role in treating cognitive disorders

Phosphodiesterases are a family of enzymes that metabolize the intracellular second messengers cyclic AMP and cyclic GMP. PDE4 is the major cyclic AMP metabolizing enzyme found in inflammatory and immune cells and is heavily expressed in the brain. Inhibition of PDE4 leads to increased levels of cAMP and activation of CREB (cAMP Response Element Binding Protein). CREB is known to regulate the signaling pathway that enables long-term memory formation in mammals. This relationship between inhibition of PDE4 and enhancement of cognitive function has been demonstrated in pre-clinical models. Consequently, it is believed that PDE4 inhibitors may play an important role in the treatment of memory disorders.

About Helicon Therapeutics

Helicon Therapeutics Inc. is engaged in the development of therapies for memory related disorders. Helicon, founded in 1997, is a privately held United States Company formed to understand the genetic basis of long-term memory formation and discover therapeutics to treat disorders of cognition. The scientific foundation and intellectual property of Helicon originated in the neuroscience program at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Helicon has developed technologies that can identify genes involved in memory formation and identify and develop drugs that influence those genes that enhance memory and cognitive function. Its principal shareholders are Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, OSI Pharmaceuticals, and institutional and private investors in Europe and the United States.

About Inflazyme

Inflazyme is a Richmond, B.C., Canada based biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of new drug therapies for the treatment of inflammatory disease. As well as its PDE4 inhibitor program, Inflazyme’s other technologies are novel, orally active, LSAIDs (Leukocyte Selective Anti-Inflammatory Drugs).

Three LSAIDs are currently being investigated in clinical trials as potential new therapies for treating various inflammatory diseases. IPL512,602 is being developed in collaboration with Aventis Pharma for the treatment of respiratory diseases and is expected to enter Phase II clinical trials this year in both allergic rhinitis and asthma. Aventis also have the rights to another LSAID for respiratory diseases being developed by Inflazyme scientists from a new series of LSAIDs, the IPL12 series.

Inflazyme and Aventis recently announced, in November 2002, that Aventis would take over all costs of development of both programs. Inflazyme may receive up to US$90m in milestone payments plus double-digit royalties on sales if both IPL512,602 and an IPL12 molecule are developed concurrently and successfully brought to market.

A further orally active LSAID, IPL550,260, is completing Phase I clinical trials. This molecule is currently unpartnered. Another LSAID, IPL576,092, satisfactorily completed a Phase II trial in asthma, and is now being investigated as a potential topical treatment for inflammatory diseases of the eye and skin.

Further novel LSAIDs, from different chemical series are also under development.

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Conference Call

Inflazyme and Helicon will host a conference call to discuss this collaboration on Friday, January 24, 2003 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time. Live audio of the conference call will be simultaneously broadcast and made available to members of the news media, investors and the general public via Inflazyme’s website at Audio replay of the conference call will be available two hours following the completion of the call via Inflazyme’s website or by calling 416 695 9731 (toll free 1 888 509 0082) until February 24, 2003.

Statements in this news release other than historical information are forward-looking statements subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially depending on factors such as the availability of resources, the timing and effects of regulatory actions, the strength of competition, the outcome of litigation and the effectiveness of patent protection.

Additional information regarding risks and uncertainties is set forth in the current Annual Information Form for Inflazyme on file with the Canadian Securities Commissions. The Toronto Stock Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this information.

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