19 February 2002 -- BioFocus plc (LSE: BIO) and Quintiles Transnational Corp. (Nasdaq: QTRN) have announced the launch of a new screening service for the rapid and early detection of potential cardiac side-effects caused by drug candidates and lead molecules. The two companies will jointly market the new service. The assay work will be carried out at BioFocus' advanced biology facility at Cambridge Science Park in the United Kingdom.

Some marketed drugs and drug candidates undergoing late-stage clinical testing have been found to produce life-threatening cardiac toxicity, associated with a prolongation of the QT interval of the electrocardiogram (ECG). This results in costly withdrawal of the product or termination of the drug development program at a late stage. These toxic effects are common to many different classes of drug molecules and are caused by inhibition of a cell membrane transport system known as the HERG channel, which in some individuals can be fatal.

BioFocus and Quintiles now offer customers a high-throughput screening (HTS) service for the detection of HERG channel inhibition, based upon the measurement of ion flux through this key cardiac channel. This new service complements Quintiles' current cardiac electrophysiology offering and allows many more compounds to be screened for this common side-effect, earlier in the discovery process. Earlier identification of these cardiotoxic effects could result in significant savings to the drug development costs for the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. David Stone, BioFocus' Chief Executive, said: "As a company specializing in the ion channel discovery area we have recognized the value of high-throughput HERG screening in order to select compounds in the early discovery stage that are likely to avoid later problems of ventricular proarrhythmia. Our functional HERG HTS provides us with a way of generating rapid and reliable pharmacological profiles of hundreds to thousands of compounds and compare potency with known HERG blockers. We are delighted to be working with Quintiles to make this assay available across the industry."

Dr. Leslie Patmore, Quintiles' Executive Director of Preclinical Safety and Efficacy, said: "I am delighted that our collaboration with BioFocus has resulted in the successful development of this assay. New international regulatory guidelines currently being prepared are likely to mandate screening for HERG channel interactions before first clinical studies in man. This assay will provide companies with an opportunity to identify potential HERG interactions at a stage which will make their drug discovery and development process more effective."

About Quintiles Transnational

Quintiles Transnational is the world's leading provider of information, technology and services to bring new medicines to patients faster and improve healthcare. Headquartered near Research Triangle Park, North Carolina Quintiles Transnational is a member of the S&P 500 and Fortune 1000. For more information visit the company's web site at www.quintiles.com.

Quintiles Pharmacology has operating groups in Edinburgh, Scotland and Kansas City, MO, USA, providing a complete range of GLP regulatory safety pharmacology packages to support first-in-man studies, full compliance with the new ICH7A guidelines.

About BioFocus

BioFocus is a pioneering collaborative drug discovery company that applies its comprehensive range of medicinal chemistry expertise and biological screening capabilities to accelerate its partners' discovery programmes. It is a growing and profitable company quoted on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange and operates from three UK science centres near Cambridge and Sittingbourne. BioFocus works with a wide range of global biopharmaceutical companies including Aventis Cropscience, GlaxoSmithKline, Millennium, Oxford GlycoSciences, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Roche and Teijin. For more details please visit www.biofocus.com.