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December 4, 2003

NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals begins first Phase 2 clinical trial of novel dermatology drug

Wakefield, MA, USA -- - 

Atopic dermatitis initial target of nanocrystalline silver topical formulation
Wakefield, Massachusetts – December 4, 2003 – NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals Corp., a subsidiary of The Westaim Corporation, today announced that it has begun its first Phase 2 human clinical trial of a topical cream formulation of its nanocrystalline silver. The investigational drug (NPI 32101) is being studied for atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, and other skin conditions and represents a biological application of nanotechnology.

“In this first Phase 2 clinical trial we will obtain data to show whether our new product addresses the problems associated with this debilitating and common disease and gather information about possible side effects,” said Scott H. Gillis, President of NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals. “Our platform silver Rx nanocrystals hold great promise in treating many conditions where inflammation and infection are present. Existing treatments often have undesirable side effects and do not completely meet the needs of patients afflicted with inflammatory conditions such as eczema.”

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin which affects up to 20 per cent of the general population. The root cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown and the inflammation often is associated with secondary skin infection. Preclinical laboratory studies have demonstrated that NUCRYST’s patent-protected nanocrystalline silver possesses both anti-inflammatory and broad spectrum antimicrobial activities. This combination of pharmacological properties may have additional uses in therapeutics.

“Westaim is pleased that NUCRYST is entering its first Phase 2 trial ahead of schedule,” said Barry Heck, President & CEO of Westaim. “NUCRYST continues to develop a promising pharmaceutical business along with its profitable and growing wound care business. The opportunity for NUCRYST’s dermatology product is significant. In 2002 the market in the United States alone for anti-inflammatory topical products was more than US$800 million and growing.”

This first Phase 2 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study will involve 20 clinical sites across the United States. In total, 180 adult patients will be treated for up to six weeks with one of two concentrations of nanocrystalline silver in a proprietary NUCRYST formulation or with the placebo, which is the formulation without any silver. The participating dermatologists will evaluate the effectiveness of topical nanocrystalline silver in improving the signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis and its safety.

As a double-blind study, neither the physician nor patient will know which treatment they are receiving until the code is broken at the end of the study. The results from this first Phase 2 trial are expected before the end of 2004. Once the results of this study are analyzed, the company plans to conduct additional clinical studies to expand on this initial study.

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 for wound care with Acticoat antimicrobial dressings for serious wounds including life-threatening burns, using NUCRYST’s proprietary SILCRYST nanocrystalline technology. These products are marketed, sold and distributed by Smith & Nephew, the world’s leading advanced wound care company.

The Westaim Corporation’s technology investments include: NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals, which researches, develops and commercializes pharmaceutical products and wound care 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 NASDAQ under the symbol WEDX and on The Toronto Stock Exchange under the trading symbol WED.

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 a trademark of Smith & Nephew plc

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