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PHYTOPHARMACEUTICALS AND PANLABS FORM DRUG DISCOVERY ALLIANCE; GOAL IS DISCOVERY OF NEW PLANT-BASED DRUGS

 SAN CARLOS, Calif., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- PHYTOpharmaceuticals Inc. (PPI), a subsidiary of ESCAgenetics Corp. (AMEX: ESN), and Panlabs Inc. today announced a collaborative agreement to screen thousands of PPI's certified plant extracts collected worldwide for the discovery of lead compounds for novel human therapeutic products.
 PPI obtains large numbers of unique and biodiverse certified plant extracts and compounds through its global plant collection and plant extract production laboratories in China, Brazil and Thailand. Under the collaborative agreement, Panlabs will test these materials using biochemical assays specially developed for use with partially purified mixtures of plant products. Both companies will isolate novel molecules displaying targeted biological activity.
 "We are enthusiastic about the potential of this collaborative venture because it complements our in-house screening program and strengthens our efforts to discover novel plant-derived drugs," said Dr. Peter Hylands, vice president of research and chief scientific officer of PHYTOpharmaceuticals. "We have established a first-rate drug discovery team, a comprehensive plant collection program and are fortunate to join forces with Panlabs, a leading-edge screening and research company with a proven track record."
 "Plants have long been a rich source of medically important drugs, as evidenced by the fact that one out of four prescription drugs marketed is plant-based. New technologies for bioactivity screening coupled with PPI's unique collection of botanical materials have stimulated our interest in the field and we are delighted to have the opportunity to apply our advanced discovery tools to this promising endeavor," stated Dr. Chris Ball, Panlabs' chairman and chief executive officer.
 The drug discovery agreement, which has a minimum two-year term, will begin immediately. The project will be initiated with Panlabs screening several thousand certified plant extracts from PPI's inventory. PPI will develop and retain all rights to commercial applications for discoveries made in the research program. Panlabs will receive an equity interest in PPI.
 Recently, PPI announced a collaborative agreement with Enzon Inc. to combine Enzon's proprietary PEGNOLOGY(SM) with PPI's proprietary chemical genetics tissue culture technology to develop more efficient oncological drugs. PPI's chemical genetics process has resulted in the creation of novel taxoids, related to taxol.
 Panlabs offers state-of-the-art, extensive and efficient assays which include profiling of drug candidates and high-throughput screening for the discovery of new candidates. Its assays have proven effective in the discovery of therapeutic agents, such as cancer, neurology, cardiovascular and anti-infective treatments.
 Panlabs, headquartered in Bothell, Wash., is a leading contract research company that has been active in the pharmaceutical industry since 1970. It works with numerous companies worldwide, including Merck & Co., Sterling and Wyeth-Ayerst to discover new drug leads and improve drug manufacturing process.
 PHYTOpharmaceuticals, based in San Carlos, is a plant-based drug discovery company that combines biotechnology and biodiversity for the discovery, development and commercialization of novel human therapeutic products, based upon a comprehensive plant sourcing and pharmacological screening program. Its parent company, ESCAgenetics Corp., is a publicly traded company that develops and produces high-value, plant- derived products.
 -0- 10/18/93
 /CONTACT: Dr. Thomas M. Glenn, president and chief operating officer of PHYTOpharmaceuticals, 415-595-5335; or Dr. Chris Ball, chairman and chief executive officer of Panlabs, 206-487-8200/
 (ESN)


CO: ESCAgenetics Corp.; PHYTOpharmaceuticals Inc.; Panlabs Inc. ST: California, Washington IN: MTC SU:

TM-PK -- SF005 -- 3153 10/18/93 07:57 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 18, 1993
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