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                      | HITACHI HOME | UP | SEARCH | HITACHI

                      News Release

                      August 20, 1998


                      - New 'Virtual Laboratory' to reduce drug testing on humans and animals -

                      Hitachi Europe Ltd., in collaboration with Elan Corporation PLC (Elan) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has been awarded an ESPRIT grant under the Irish Centre for Transfer of Advanced Computing Technology's (ICeTACT) technology transfer umbrella.

                      The Commission has approved a start date of July 8th1998. The fifteen month project focuses on simulating drug delivery systems in the human body and among its aims is the creation of a "Virtual Laboratory". This would be used by pharmaceutical companies to assess the efficacy of new controlled-release mechanisms of drugs and could reduce testing on humans and animals; a process which is often expensive, time-consuming and occasionally, toxic. The partners believe that there is great potential in the application of computer simulation to all aspects of drug testing, as it may reduce reliance on in-vitro testing in the early phases of drug design.

                      As well as accelerating the transition from the discovery and development of a drug to its availability 'on the shelf', other potential benefits include reduced side effects and the safer delivery of potentially toxic doses. The partners envisage that doses could in some cases become smaller, better controlled and taken less frequently. Future examples include the oral delivery of proteins such as insulin, vaccine patches and gene therapy.

                      Under the PSUDO (Parallel SimUlation of Drug release cOde) project, researchers at Hitachi Dublin Laboratory (HDL) - part of Hitachi Europe - will collaborate with TCD's School of Mathematics to develop and implement models of novel drug delivery systems supplied by the School of Pharmacy, TCD. Hitachi's massively parallel computer, the SR2201, will be used to evaluate the models. The results from the computer program will be validated by in-vitro results carried out in Elan's laboratory at TCD.

                      Hitachi Dublin Laboratory has recently completed another project funded by ESPRIT which assessed the potential of High Performance Computing (HPC) for a small company in the food and chemical industries. As part of the ICeTACT technology transfer node, both projects are aimed at promoting the use of HPC in industries where their impact has not yet been felt.

                      Dr Yutaka Kuwahara, General Manager, Research & Development, Hitachi Europe, said, "We are delighted that the PSUDO project has received funding from ESPRIT. Hitachi has been at the forefront of research into high performance computing for 20 years and we are very proud that our technology can be used to solve real life problems."

                      Ms Audrey Crosbie, ICETACT Project Manager of Trinity College Dublin, said, "We are confident that this collaboration has enormous potential to accelerate progress in this nascent area. Clearly, the potential to create a 'Virtual Laboratory' has far reaching implications not only for the pharmaceutical industry but in the wider context of medical science."

                      Notes to editors

                      Future Applications of Drug Delivery Systems:
                      The applications of Drug Delivery Systems (DDS) are limited only by the imagination. The principal benefit of a DDS is increased control of drug level. The range of applications stretches from the treatment of blood pressure & arthritis (where a sustained level of the drug is required throughout the day) to that of illnesses like cancer (where chemotherapy requires the drug to reach a maximum effective,non-toxic level quickly and not greatly fluctuate from that).

                      Hitachi Dublin Laboratory:
                      Hitachi Dublin Laboratory (HDL) was founded in 1989 to carry out collaborate research and development in advanced information technology. Since 1994, a major focus of the laboratory has been High Performance Computing.

                      Hitachi Europe Ltd.:
                      Hitachi Europe Ltd., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. Japan. It has operations throughout Europe which provides sales, marketing, technical support and research & development.

                      Hitachi, Ltd.:
                      Hitachi, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is one of the world's leading global electronics companies, with fiscal 1997 (ending March 31, 1998) consolidated sales of 63.8 billion dollars or 8,416 billion yen.* The companymanufactures and markets a wide range of products, including computers, semiconductors, consumer products and power and industrial equipment. For more information on Hitachi, Ltd., please visit Hitachi's Web site at http://www.hitachi.co.jp.
                      *At an exchange rate of 132 yen to the dollar.

                      ELAN CORPORATION PLC:
                      Elan is a leading drug delivery and bio-pharmaceutical company. Its drug delivery technologies are designed to improve and control the absorption and utilisation of active pharmaceutical compounds. Elan markets more than 20 products in excess of 45 countries.

                      TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN:
                      The University of Dublin, founded in 1592, is the oldest university in Ireland. Trinity College is the sole constituent college of the University. At present, there are over 10,000 students and 1,200 staff members working on the College campus which is located in the centre of Dublin.

                      For further information please contact:
                      Emi Takase
                      Hitachi, Ltd.

                      WRITTEN BY Secretary's Office
                      All Rights Reserved, Copyright (C) 1998, Hitachi, Ltd.

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