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Aurora Biosciences Presents at 19th Annual J.P. Morgan H&Q Healthcare Conference

PR Newswire
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 10, 2001 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Aurora Biosciences(R)
Corporation (Nasdaq: ABSC), a San Diego-based drug discovery company, will
present at the 19th Annual JP Morgan H&Q Healthcare Conference on Wednesday
January 10, 2001. As previously announced, the presentation will begin at 10:00
am (Pacific), and will be simultaneously webcast via the internet at

Addressing investors in San Francisco today, Stuart J. M. Collinson, Ph.D.,
Aurora's chairman, chief executive officer and president, will provide a summary
of achievements in 2000 and the Company's outlook for 2001.


In 2000 Aurora entered into 15 new discovery collaborations, achieved several
technical milestones, strengthened its patent portfolio and executed two
merger/acquisition agreements. These achievements are reviewed below.

1. Discovery collaborations

-- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF)
In May 2000 Aurora announced an expanded drug discovery and
development collaboration with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This
record collaboration between a disease foundation and a biotech
company, valued at approximately $50 million, is focused on
discovering and developing new therapeutics for Cystic Fibrosis.

-- Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (FSMA)
In March 2000 Aurora announced a therapeutic discovery program with
FSMA to identify novel therapeutics for the treatment of Spinal
Muscular Atrophy. Under the agreement, Aurora will develop
cell-based assays, conduct high-throughput drug screening against
its proprietary 500,000 compound chemical library, conduct follow-up
work on the lead compounds to establish potency, and collaborate
with academic researchers to test for efficacy in animal models.

-- Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF)
In September 2000 Aurora announced that it had entered into a
therapeutic drug discovery alliance with the Hereditary Disease
Foundation. The focus of this alliance is to identify novel
therapeutics for the treatment of Huntington's disease. Under this
agreement, Aurora will use its proprietary green fluorescent protein
(GFP) and beta-lactamase reporter technology to develop cell-based
and biochemical assays. Aurora will screen these assays against its
proprietary compound library. Aurora will then pharmacologically
profile any active compounds and collaborate with academic
researchers to test for efficacy in animal models.

-- Merck
In September 2000 Aurora announced it had signed a new agreement
with Merck focused on ion channel drug discovery. Under the
agreement, Merck will provide Aurora with an ion channel target and
its compound library for screening at Aurora using Aurora's next
generation ion channel platform.

-- Allergan
Earlier this week, Aurora announced that it had entered into an ion
channel discovery agreement with Allergan. Under this agreement,
Aurora will develop primary and secondary functional cell-based
assays for a novel ion channel target identified by Allergan.
Aurora will screen this target using the assays it has developed and
its own compound library, as well as a library provided by Allergan.
Aurora will provide the screening and profiling data to Allergan for
further optimization of the hits.

-- Other ion channel agreements
In 2000 Aurora signed numerous agreements focused on ion channels.
These agreements include collaborations with new customers such as
American Home Products, GlaxoSmithKline, NV Organon Laboratories,
The R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute, and Janssen
Research Foundation. In addition to new agreements, Aurora expanded
ion channel agreements with Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and The R.W.
Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute.

-- Functional Genomics Agreements
In 2000 Aurora signed several functional genomic agreements. In
March Aurora expanded its technology agreement with Pfizer to
include access to the GenomeScreen(TM) technology. In April Aurora
licensed green fluorescent protein (GFP) technology to American Home
Products. In July Aurora received a $1 million SBIR grant for
human cell functional genomics and drug discovery. In October
Aurora announced an agreement with Ceres, Inc. This was Aurora's
first agreement focused on agricultural genomics.

-- Completion of UHTSS(R) Platform
Aurora announced on December 21, 2000, the completion and
installation of the UHTSS Platform for its first customer, Bristol-
Myers Squibb. The UHTSS Platform combines compound management,
plate replication, assay preparation, hit identification, selection
and re-tests of the hits, fluorescence detection and data analysis
into one fully-integrated and automated system.

Aurora's own UHTSS system was completed in the fourth quarter of
2000 and will be used for Aurora's Big Biology(TM) drug discovery

2. New technologies and patents

-- Absorption / Distribution / Metabolism / Excretion (ADME) and Safety
In September 2000 Aurora announced that Pfizer had licensed Aurora's
Vivid(TM) fluorogenic probe substrates for profiling drug
metabolism. Vivid technology is used to determine whether compounds
interact with key metabolic enzymes, which affects their suitability
as drugs. Vivid probes enable more accurate and facile detection of
drug metabolism and cytochrome P450 interactions than current
technologies. They can be used with high-throughput and ultra-high
throughput screening systems to allow profiling of entire compound

Aurora also announced that it had successfully developed a high-
throughput HERG ("human ether a go-go" related gene) assay to
profile compounds for cardiac safety. HERG assays can evaluate
harmful cardiac side effects in drug candidates early in the
process, saving time and money.

-- Ion channel biology and systems
Aurora further developed proprietary screening methods and systems
for ion channel drug discovery, including the VIPR(TM) II subsystem.
These new technologies are the basis for the agreements announced
this week with GlaxoSmithKline and Allergan.

-- Microfluidics
Aurora made significant advances in proprietary piezo sub-nanoliter
dispensing, reagent robotics and plastic technologies for all plate
density formats.

-- Patents
Aurora's patent portfolio continues to grow and currently includes
over 40 patents issued worldwide and over 120 patents pending.

3. Mergers and acquisitions

Aurora continues to build its portfolio of leading-edge drug
discovery technologies, through internal programs, as well as
through strategically focused acquisitions. Aurora announced two
acquisitions in the fourth quarter of 2000.

-- PanVera Corporation
On November 17th, Aurora announced it had entered into a definitive
merger agreement with the PanVera Corporation of Madison, Wisconsin.
PanVera will provide Aurora with the ability to express and purify
proteins on a large scale. In addition, the PanVera merger
will strengthen Aurora's global sales and marketing infrastructure,
provide Aurora with approximately 100 additional protein drug
targets, and add complimentary fluorescence polarization assays,
which are useful for evaluating protein-protein interactions. The
merger with PanVera is expected to close in the first quarter of

-- Quorum Sciences
On October 20th, Aurora announced that it had acquired Quorum
Sciences, a leader in biofilms and quorum sensing (communication
amongst bacterial colonies). This acquisition expanded Aurora's
discovery capabilities in the field of antimicrobials, an area of
significant unmet medical need.


The year 2000 was exciting and successful for Aurora. In 2001 we have three
objectives: (a) continue to grow our core business (b) leverage the proteomic
platform of PanVera (once the merger closes) and (c) build additional
shareholder value through the Big Biology Initiative.

1. Discovery collaborations
Aurora expects to continue to expand the core business by signing
further discovery collaborations with new and existing customers.
We expect these agreements to be in the areas of broad biology and
systems collaborations, ion channels, fluorescent proteins,
metabolism and licensing of technology patents.

2. New technologies with commercial potential
Innovation is at the heart of Aurora's culture. In 2001 our
research will focus on proprietary new assay technologies, ion
channels, functional genomics and our Big Biology Initiative.

3. Big Biology(TM) Initiative
In 2000 Aurora initiated Big Biology, Aurora's internal
target-centric drug discovery program. Traditionally, Aurora's
technologies have been applied from target identification through
screening. Now, Aurora intends to take its technologies further
downstream to identify promising preclinical candidates, conduct
absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity (ADMET)
studies, and build a database of biological and chemical
relationships. Aurora intends to develop programs internally as
well as with partners.

Big Biology is focused on positioning Aurora as a leading post-
genomic drug discovery company. This initiative is a natural
evolution of Aurora's current business model, which will continue to
be aggressively pursued. Big Biology is intended to leverage
Aurora's extensive intellectual property and capabilities in target
identification and validation, assay development and ultra-high
throughput screening, to get closer to the small molecule and
capture greater value for Aurora's shareholders.

Built on established technology, Big Biology involves all of the
core competencies that Aurora employs on a regular basis to
accelerate the discovery efforts of its partners. The most
significant difference is that Aurora will be doing the work
proactively and for the benefit of Aurora shareholders, rather than
directly for its discovery partners.

Big Biology will initially focus on working with at least 100
targets across various target classes. Aurora expects to develop and
screen assays against Aurora's proprietary 500,000 compound library
to identify promising lead candidates. During 2001 Aurora expects
to generate at least 10 million experiments.

Commercial opportunities that may be generated from the Big Biology
program include the creation of high-value proprietary products,
functional target intellectual property, assay sets, a chemogenomic
database, an in vitro ADME platform, compound family intellectual
property and discovery collaborations.


Aurora is targeting revenues of about $90 million in 2001 once the merger with
PanVera Corporation has closed. Of this target, about 85% is expected from
Aurora and about 15% from PanVera.

Aurora intends to reinvest its profits by increasing its research and
development (R&D) budget by over 60% in 2001. The increased R & D expenditures
will be used to hire additional scientists and acquire and screen drug targets.
In light of this financially disciplined reinvestment of profits, Aurora is
targeting approximately break-even performance in 2001.

DISCLOSURE NOTICE: The information contained in this press release is presented
only as of January 10, 2001, and will not be updated as a result of new
information or future events or developments.

Aurora is a drug discovery company that develops and applies proprietary
technologies to accelerate the discovery of new medicines. Aurora's core
technologies include a broad portfolio of proprietary fluorescence assay
technologies, including its GeneBLAzer(TM) and VIPR(TM) technologies, its
functional genomics GenomeScreen(TM) program, its automated master compound
store, the AMCS, and its ultra-high throughput screening system (UHTSS(R)
Platform) and subsystems to miniaturize and automate drug screening and
profiling assays derived from those technologies. The Big Biology(TM) Initiative
is Aurora's internal target-centric drug discovery program, involving all of
Aurora's core competencies, to move further downstream to proactively identify
promising preclinical candidates. Aurora's technologies have been commercially
validated by over 20 major life sciences companies and research organizations,
including American Home Products, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Ceres, Inc., Cystic
Fibrosis Foundation, Eli Lilly & Co., Families of SMA, Glaxo SmithKline,
Genentech, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Inc., NV Organon Laboratories,
Pfizer, Inc., Pharmacia and Roche, in the form of commercialization agreements
for discovery collaborations, research services, licenses or systems. For
additional information on Aurora's services and products, please contact Sales
and Marketing via email at

Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical are
"forward-looking" statements which involve a high degree of risk and
uncertainty. Such statements are only predictions and the actual events or
results may differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking
statements. These include statements regarding Aurora's plans for entering into
additional discovery collaborations with new and existing customers, the focus
and goals of Aurora's Big Biology Initiative, and Aurora's expected revenues
(including sources of revenues) and expenditures and financial objectives for
2001. Factors that could cause or contribute to differences include risks
involved with Aurora's new and uncertain technology, risks associated with the
dependence on patents and proprietary rights, the ability to attract additional
collaborative partners, dependence on existing pharmaceutical and biotechnology
collaborations, the risk that the Aurora and PanVera businesses will not be
integrated successfully or that the costs of the proposed merger will not be
higher than expected, and the development or availability of competing systems.
In addition, the closing of the merger between Aurora and PanVera is subject to
approval by PanVera's stockholders, regulatory approvals and other customary
conditions. These factors and others are more fully described in Aurora's Annual
Report on Form 10-K/A for the fiscal year ended December 31, 1999 and subsequent
Forms 10-Q, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For additional
corporate information, visit the Aurora website at

Aurora Biosciences(R), Big Biology(TM), GeneBLAzer(TM), GenomeScreen(TM),
UHTSS(R), VIPR(TM) and Vivid(TM) are trademarks of Aurora Biosciences

SOURCE Aurora Biosciences Corporation

CONTACT: Doug Farrell, Senior Director, Investor Relations & Corporate
Communications of Aurora Biosciences Corporation, 858-404-6767, or
fax, 858-404-6714,


(C) 2001 PR Newswire. All rights reserved.

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