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Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Announces Milestone Payment from Inflammation Collaboration
Date:2/20/2008

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Feb. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: SNSS) today announced that it has earned a preclinical milestone payment from Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C. (J&JPRD) under the companies' drug discovery collaboration agreement.

The two companies entered into a research collaboration in May 2002 to discover oral small molecule enzyme inhibitors for the treatment of major chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The recent milestone payment was triggered by J&JPRD's selection of a compound targeting the Cathepsin S enzyme as a development candidate. Under the terms of the collaboration agreement, Sunesis has the potential to receive additional development milestone payments from J&JPRD, as well as royalty payments based on future product sales.

"We believe that a small molecule inhibitor of Cathepsin S will provide a useful approach to treating certain inflammatory conditions and we are pleased by J&JPRD's advancement of a compound from our collaboration into development," said Bob McDowell, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at Sunesis.

About Cathepsin S

Cathepsin S is an enzyme involved in the activation of immune system T-cells. Inhibiting inappropriate activation of T-cells may lead to novel treatments of certain inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

About Sunesis Pharmaceuticals

Sunesis is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel small molecule therapeutics for oncology and other serious diseases. Sunesis has built a broad product candidate portfolio through internal discovery and in-licensing of novel cancer therapeutics. Sunesis is advancing its product candidates through in-house research and development efforts and strategic collaborations with leading pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies. For additional information on Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, please visit http://www.sunesis.com.

SUNESIS and the logo are trademarks of Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding Sunesis' collaboration with J&JPRD and the potential for Sunesis to receive additional milestone payments and royalties from J&JPRD. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. Sunesis' actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements as a result of these risks and uncertainties, which include, without limitation, the risk that J&JPRD's research and development activities with respect to collaboration compounds could be halted or delayed for various reasons or that there may never be sales from a resulting product. Sunesis may never receive any additional milestone payments or royalties from J&JPRD in connection with this collaboration. These and other risk factors are discussed under "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in Sunesis' annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, Sunesis' most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sunesis expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the company's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statements are based.


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SOURCE Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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