AVANIR Subsidiary Xenerex Biosciences Awarded Funding to Develop Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for Anthrax

SAN DIEGO, Jun 19, 2002 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Xenerex Biosciences, a subsidiary of AVANIR Pharmaceuticals (Amex: AVN), today announced that it has been notified it will receive $75,000 from the Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technology (CCAT). The award will be used to fund the initial development of a treatment that is intended to reduce the potentially damaging effects of exposure to anthrax toxins.

"Currently, there is a gap in treatment for individuals that could be or are exposed to anthrax spores," explained Dr. Phillip Morrow, Director of Technology and Principal Scientist at Xenerex, the author of the successful CCAT proposal. "There are groups of individuals for whom vaccination against anthrax is not possible or effective and so alternative therapies need to be developed. Even more important, no treatment currently addresses the potential damage from the toxins made by the anthrax organism. The Xenerex effort is aimed at producing human antibodies that neutralize the toxins."

Xenerex Biosciences has developed a proprietary platform technology that is capable of generating fully human antibodies to multiple targets, including human protein targets. The proposal submitted to CCAT is intended to fund the generation and isolation of an initial set of human monoclonal antibodies to anthrax toxins. The potential product may be capable of neutralizing anthrax toxins and provide rapid treatment to individuals who have been exposed to anthrax toxins or who suspect they have been exposed. The product could potentially be used as a stand-alone therapy or in conjunction with vaccines and antibiotics.

CCAT, in coordination with the Entrepreneurial Management Center at San Diego State University, will also provide a market feasibility assessment evaluating the commercial potential of the Xenerex effort in homeland security applications. The assessment aims to determine the market potential, risks, and barriers to commercialization for Xenerex's prospective product. It will be conducted by a team of graduate-level students, under the guidance of a university professor and an experienced mentor team.

"Xenerex is honored to be selected by CCAT to use our technology to develop antibodies that may be useful in national defense," said J. David Hansen, President and Chief Operating Officer of Xenerex Biosciences. "Results of this research may also give us the preliminary data necessary to secure additional funding for product development."

CCAT -- supported by a $5.2 million two-year appropriation from Congress and funded by the Department of Defense -- is a public-private collaborative partnership between academia, industry, and government uniting the San Diego State University (SDSU) Foundation and Entrepreneurial Management Center, the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering and UCSD CONNECT, ORINCON Corporation International, and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego. The consortium-style CCAT intends to bridge the gap that exists between the generators of technology, the Department of Defense and the commercial marketplace.

Xenerex is building a portfolio of antibody product candidates through agreements and licenses with biopharmaceutical companies and is also developing its own proprietary product portfolio for potential out-licensing or co-development. The Xenerex technology utilizes human immune system cells engrafted into severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice, which do not have their native immune system. The mice are immunized with the target antigen and respond by creating fully human antibodies, which the company isolates and evaluates for desired antibody characteristics.

Xenerex Biosciences, a subsidiary of AVANIR Pharmaceuticals, is a biopharmaceutical company with a customer-focused mission to enable partner companies to develop and commercialize completely human antibody products. The company's website is http://www.xenerex.com .

AVANIR Pharmaceuticals, based in San Diego, is a biopharmaceutical drug discovery and development company with an FDA-approved, commercialized, market-leading product. AVANIR is engaged in research, discovery, development and licensing of innovative drug products and, through its subsidiary Xenerex Biosciences, antibody generation services. The Company's website is http://www.avanir.com .

Except for the historical information presented herein, matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements that are preceded by, followed by, or that include such words as "estimate," "anticipate," "believe," "plan" or "expect" or similar statements are forward-looking statements. Risks and uncertainties for AVANIR Pharmaceuticals and Xenerex Biosciences include risks associated with product discovery and development as well as risks shown in AVANIR's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and from time-to- time in other publicly available information regarding the companies. Copies of such information are available from AVANIR upon request. Such publicly available information sets forth many risks and uncertainties related to AVANIR's business and technology. Xenerex's monoclonal antibody technology competes with several technologies used by large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and is subject to a number of uncertainties, including risks associated with the success of clinical trials, the progress of research and product development programs, the regulatory approval process, competitive products and future capital requirements. Before the grant can be claimed, a Statement of Work, Cost Proposal and a report on the status of Xenerex's intellectual property must be received by CCAT. There can be no assurance that such development efforts will succeed, that such products will receive required regulatory clearance, or that even if such regulatory clearance were received, that such products would ultimately achieve commercial success. The companies disclaim any intent or obligations to update these forward-looking statements.

SOURCE AVANIR Pharmaceuticals

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