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Diversa Launches DiscoveryPoint(TM) Nitrilase Platform at INFORMEX(R) 2002; Proprietary Enzyme Technology Improves Chiral Synthesis For Pharmaceutical Manufacturing.

NEW ORLEANS -- Diversa Corporation announced today, at the INFORMEX(R) 2002 conference, the launch of its DiscoveryPoint(TM) Nitrilase Platform based on the discovery of hundreds of new sequence-unique nitrilases that comprise the platform. The DiscoveryPoint Nitrilase Platform enables reactions for which no known organic or inorganic catalyst is available, making it especially suited to the manufacture of chiral pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals. Previously, fewer than 15 microbially-derived nitrilases had been characterized and reported in the literature and public databases.

Single enantiomer compounds are preferred by the pharmaceutical industry because they exhibit lower toxicity, higher efficacy, lower manufacturing costs, and may facilitate patent life extensions. Diversa's nitrilase platform promotes enantioselective production of chiral molecules, known as carboxylic acid derivatives, which are used as building blocks for synthetic pharmaceuticals. Nitrilases within the DiscoveryPoint platform have been shown to enable the synthesis of a variety of enantioselective mandelic acid and aryllactic acid derivatives, as well as key intermediates for several pril drugs and the blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor(R).

"Diversa is pleased to offer the DiscoveryPoint Nitrilase Platform. This collection of new enzymes provides unprecedented activity and selectivity and enables the synthesis of molecules under conditions where alternative chemical technologies are limited or unavailable," stated Mark Burk, Ph.D., Vice President of Chemical Product Development at Diversa. "The discovery and development of these enzymes and other novel biological catalysts result from Diversa's proprietary genomic discovery technologies and our unique ability to develop products from previously untapped resources."

While conventional chemical hydrolysis of nitriles requires strong acid or base and high temperature, Diversa's DiscoveryPoint nitrilases perform this reaction under mild conditions in aqueous solution or in the presence of organic solvent and are uniquely robust to the typically adverse manufacturing conditions inherent in generating pharmaceutical intermediate products. Nitrilases discovered by Diversa can also be used to produce alpha-amino acids, alpha-hydroxy acids, lactones, and other valuable compounds.

Diversa will highlight the DiscoveryPoint Nitrilase Platform at the INFORMEX 2002 show (booth #645) February 26 through March 1, 2002 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA. INFORMEX(R) is the premier venue for showcasing the latest technological advances and the newest developments in custom chemical manufacturing.

About Chiral Compounds

Chiral compounds are molecules that appear in two forms that mirror each other; mirror image molecules that are not superimposable are called enantiomers. One of these forms often has dominant functionality within the body when used as a component of a pharmaceutical product, while the other is inactive or even harmful to human health. Enantioselective enzymes such as nitrilases are capable of forming a single enantiomer and eliminating the potentially harmful effects of the mirror image counterpart.

About Nitrilases

Nitrilases make up a family of highly selective biocatalysts capable of catalyzing the synthesis of intermediates and resolving agents for pharmaceutical, chemical, and agricultural products.

About Diversa

Diversa Corporation is a leader in applying proprietary genomic technologies for the rapid discovery and optimization of novel products from genes and gene pathways. Diversa is directing its integrated portfolio of technologies to the discovery, evolution, and production of commercially valuable molecules with pharmaceutical applications, such as optimized monoclonal antibodies and orally active drugs, as well as enzymes and small molecules with agricultural, chemical, and industrial applications. The Company has formed significant joint ventures with The Dow Chemical Company (named Innovase LLC) and with Syngenta Seeds AG (named Zymetrics, Inc.) focused on near-term commercialization of products for the industrial and agricultural markets, respectively. In addition, the Company has formed alliances with market leaders, such as Celera Genomics, The Dow Chemical Company, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Invitrogen Corporation, and Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc. Additional information is available at Diversa's website: http://www.diversa.com/ .

Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical are "forward-looking" and involve a high degree of risk and uncertainty. These include statements related to the ability of the DiscoveryPoint Nitrilase Platform to enable reactions for which other catalysts are not available, the utility of the DiscoveryPoint Nitrilase Platform to the manufacture of chiral pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals, the unprecedented activity and selectivity of the platform and its ability to synthesize molecules under conditions where alternative chemical technologies are limited or unavailable, and Diversa's unique ability to develop products from previously untapped resources, all of which are prospective. Such statements are only predictions, and the actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to differences include, but are not limited to, risks involved with Diversa's new and uncertain technologies and the utility of these technologies for chiral synthesis, risks associated with Diversa's dependence on patents and proprietary rights, risks associated with Diversa's protection and enforcement of its patents and proprietary rights, Diversa's dependence on existing collaborations, timing of achievement of milestones and receipt of revenues under collaborations, Diversa's ability to commercialize products using its technologies, the development or availability of competitive products or technologies, and the future ability of Diversa to enter into and/or maintain collaboration and joint venture agreements. These factors and others are more fully described in Diversa's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, Diversa's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2000. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. Diversa expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

Note: Diversa is a registered trademark of Diversa Corporation. DiscoveryPoint is a trademark of Diversa Corporation.

Lipitor(R) is a registered trademark of Pfizer.

For further information, please contact: investor relations, Hillary Theakston of Diversa, +1-858-526-5121; or media relations, Virginia Amann of Atkins & Associates, +1-858-860-0266, for Diversa.

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Contact: investor relations, Hillary Theakston of Diversa, +1-858-526-5121; or media relations, Virginia Amann of Atkins & Associates, +1-858-860-0266, for Diversa

Website: http://www.diversa.com/
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Date:Feb 27, 2002
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