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biota announcement

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    Announces HIV Breakthrough from its US Research Group

    Announced on: 30/04/2003 09:18:14
    Part: A
    Words: 472
    Status: Market sensitive (Y)



    HOMEX - Melbourne

    Biota Holdings Limited (ASX: BTA) announced today that its US
    subsidiary, Biota Inc, had made an important breakthrough in its
    program to develop a new drug to combat HIV/AIDS. Dr Dan Cook, the
    President and Chief Scientist of Biota Inc, presented the findings at
    the International Conference on Antiviral Research ((ICAR) in
    Savannah, Georgia, on 28 April.

    Biota Inc, based in Carlsbad, California, employs its proprietary
    N-MAX technology to create 'nucleotide mimics', novel versions of
    nucleoside drugs, with the potential for enhanced activity and
    reduced toxicity. Nucleoside drugs are widely used to treat diseases
    such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C infection, and cancer. AZT
    (zidovudine), a leading anti-HIV nucleoside drug with sales of around
    $1.5 billion*, has been a primary target for the Biota Inc research.
    The latest achievement involves the discovery and initial testing of
    an AZT nucleotide mimic.

    "The AZT-mimic research has been a remarkable success," said Biota
    Group CEO, Peter Molloy. "In less than a year, Dan Cook's scientific
    team has demonstrated proof-of-concept for the N-MAX technology and
    discovered a series of novel compounds that could lead to new
    treatments for HIV/AIDS." The lead compound series, referred to as
    B-108, are covered by the patent applications recently filed by
    Biota Inc.

    Dr Cook presented data on the B-108 compounds at the ICAR meeting,
    which included the results of studies conducted by an independent
    laboratory in the US, using drug resistant HIV strains in human cell
    cultures. The studies showed that the new compounds were many times
    more effective than AZT, while having less toxicity.

    "AZT is a good drug and a tough benchmark," said Dr Cook. "These
    results are very promising."

    The B-108 results are expected to generate interest among the
    companies in the HIV field, opening the way for initiation of
    partnering discussions over the next few months. Meanwhile, the US
    research team will continue to optimise the current series of
    compounds, with the plan to secure a development partner before
    taking any of the new compounds into clinical development.

    Biota Inc already has one important partnership in place, with
    GlaxoSmithKline, which is focused on hepatitis C drug discovery and
    which generated $2.7 million in revenues for the Company in the first
    half of this year.

    Biota Inc is 88% owned by Biota Holdings Limited (approximately 84%
    on a fully-diluted basis). Biota Inc was provided with $15 million in
    initial equity funding by Biota Holdings, which was used to establish
    the N-MAX laboratory facilities and scientific team in Carlsbad,
    California. The facility has been fully operational since mid-2002.

    For further information contact:

    Peter Molloy
    Biota Holdings Limited
    Tel +61 3 9529 2311

    * Sales denoted in Australian dollars. Based on 2002 sales data for
    Combivir(R) (marketed by GSK), a combination product of AZT and
    another nucleoside drug, 3TC.

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