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HIV cure - BIT

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    Is this for real?

    BIOTRON LIMITED 2002-05-23 ASX-SIGNAL-G

    HOMEX - Sydney

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++
    The Directors are pleased to advise that Biotron Limited ('Biotron')
    has demonstrated that the Company's Virion Project lead compound,
    BIT009, inhibits HIV-1 replication in infected human cells.

    The inhibition of HIV-1 replication prevents a rise in virus titre
    and the development of AIDS. As existing AIDS drugs do not target
    this 'budding' process, the results of Biotron's research provide a
    way to develop a new type of drug which can be used in the treatment
    of AIDS.

    Professor Peter Gage, the Company's Research Director believes that
    the results represent a major step in the development of a new kind
    of anti-AIDS drug that prevents release of the AIDS virus from cells.
    He said: "The results are exciting and very satisfying and confirm
    the approach the Company is taking."

    VIRION PROJECT

    In HIV-1 assays, which were performed on behalf of the Company at the
    Westmead Millenium Institute, a leading Australian research
    institute, BIT009 was shown to inhibit HIV replication in primary
    human macrophages. Preliminary studies indicate that the HIV-1 virus
    does not easily generate resistant mutants to these compounds in the
    experiments performed. Work is on-going to further characterise the
    effects of the compounds on replication of HIV-1.

    This result demonstrates proof-of-concept of Biotron's anti-HIV drug
    discovery platform. BIT009 was identified as a potential anti-HIV
    drug candidate using Biotron's patented method for determining ion
    channel activity (US 6355413) which identifies inhibitors of the
    HIV-1 Vpu protein. Vpu is a protein that forms ion channels in
    cellular membranes, and Biotron has shown that inhibition of Vpu ion
    channel activity also depresses 'budding' or release of new virus.
    This finding was recently published in the European Biophysics
    Journal.

    Using the information obtained from this research, Biotron is now
    designing additional novel compounds that act on the HIV-1 Vpu
    protein. In addition, Biotron is expanding this platform by
    developing a second novel screening assay to further facilitate
    identification of drugs that depress viral budding. This unique HIV
    drug discovery platform will enable Biotron to rapidly screen
    externally sourced libraries of compounds in addition to those
    developed in-house, thereby providing a whole new therapeutic target
    for AIDS that has previously not been possible.

    Professor Gage also said: "These results represent a major advance in
    the fight against AIDS and provide proof-of-concept of Biotron's HIV
    drug discovery platform technology. We expect that new drugs, based
    on the Company's technology, will now be developed to stop the HIV-1
    infection from developing into AIDS."

    For further information, please contact Dr Michelle Miller on
    (02) 6125 8001 or 0412 313 329.

    P J Nightingale
    COMPANY SECRETARY
 
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