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Avalon Pharmaceuticals names lead development candidate in beta-catenin inhibitor program

Germantown, MD, June 26, 2008 -- Avalon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: AVRX), announced today the nomination of AVN316 as a lead clinical development candidate in its Beta-catenin Pathway Inhibitor program. This novel compound inhibits the Beta-catenin pathway and is a potent inducer of cancer cell death. The Company plans to begin clinical testing of AVN316 in patients in 2009.

Beta-catenin is one of the most commonly activated cancer pathways and is known to play a key role in the initiation and progression of cancer. The Beta-catenin pathway is upregulated in a large number of different cancer types, in particular colon cancer, where it has been estimated to be abnormally activated in at least 90 percent of cases.

"The biological complexity and the classically intractable nature of the beta-catenin protein have prevented this pathway from being effectively targeted by conventional drug discovery techniques, despite the efforts of numerous pharmaceutical companies," stated Kenneth Carter, Ph.D., President and CEO of Avalon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "We are very pleased to name AVN316 as the lead compound for this intractable target, which we believe provides validation for our unique drug discovery platform, AvalonRx."

Using AvalonRx, the Company identified several chemical compounds series that inhibit beta-catenin function. One family of structurally distinct chemical compounds potently down-regulate the Beta-catenin pathway by reducing beta-catenin protein levels. This lead compound series (of which AVN316 is a member) decreases the beta-catenin protein levels in cancer cells and xenograft tumors, induces biomarkers of Beta-catenin pathway inhibition, and inhibits tumor growth. AVN316 was chosen from the series for its potency and tumor growth inhibition properties in animal models of human disease. Near-term activities with AVN316 include toxicology studies and large-scale manufacturing in preparation for IND submission to the FDA.


Contact: Kate Gormley
Dorland Global Public Relations

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