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April 25, 2003

Westaim’s NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals to pursue new eczema drug

Wakefield, MA, USA -- - 

Phase I human safety trials set to begin in April
NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Westaim Corporation, announced today that its first Investigational New Drug (IND) application has been allowed. NUCRYST, which filed the IND application in March 2003 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is now permitted to initiate human trials of a dermatology cream containing its proprietary formulation of silver Rx nanocrystals. NUCRYST is developing this product (NPI 32101) for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, or eczema, and other skin conditions. The market in the United States alone for anti-inflammatory topical products was more than US$800 million in 2002.

“This filing allows us to begin the human clinical work necessary to gain FDA approval for a new class of eczema drug based on our nanocrystalline technology,” said Scott H. Gillis, President of NUCRYST. “Existing treatments do not completely meet the needs of patients suffering from eczema. We aim to prove that our technology has few side-effects and that, due to its dual action, it addresses both the inflammation associated with eczema and the secondary infections that often accompany the disease.”

Phase I trials, which began on April 24, 2003, involve a small number of healthy volunteers. The study is designed to evaluate the tolerance of a range of topical doses on healthy subjects. Phase II studies are planned to follow the Phase I safety trial and will examine the cream’s efficacy on patients suffering from eczema. Phase III studies involve a larger number of patients in multiple centers.

Several animal studies have shown NUCRYST’s dermatologic formulations to be very effective in reversing severe dermal inflammation. Pre-clinical tests have also demonstrated nanocrystalline silver’s broad spectrum antimicrobial properties. This dual action is important because secondary infections often accompany eczema due to excessive scratching and the lack of endogenous antimicrobial substances in the skin of eczema sufferers. No existing treatment currently addresses both inflammation and infection.

Some of the animal studies, conducted in association with Tufts University, included in the IND have been accepted for presentation to leading dermatology researchers at the world’s largest pre-clinical dermatology research meeting, the International Society of Investigative Dermatology Meeting, to be held starting on May 1, 2003, in Miami Beach, Florida.


About NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals
NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals Corp. (www.nucryst.com) researches and develops pharmaceutical products based on noble metal nanocrystalline technology. Potential products are in development for dermatology and severe respiratory conditions. The company has also profitably commercialized its technology in medical devices with its first products, ActicoatÔ antimicrobial dressings for burns and serious wounds, using NUCRYST’s proprietary SILCRYSTÔ nanocrystalline technology. These products are marketed, sold and distributed by Smith & Nephew, the world’s leading wound care company.

The Westaim Corporation’s technology investments include: NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals, which researches, develops and commercializes medical devices and pharmaceutical products based on its nanocrystalline silver technology; and iFire Technology, which has developed a revolutionary low-cost flat panel display. Westaim's common shares are listed on The Toronto Stock Exchange under the trading symbol WED and on Nasdaq under the symbol WEDX.


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For more information contact:


David Wills, Investor Relations
The Westaim Corporation
(416) 504-8464

info@westaim.com
www.westaim.com

SILCRYST™ is a trademark of NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals Corp.
Acticoat™ is trademark of Smith & Nephew plc

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