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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


For Release 6 a.m. PST
Dec. 18, 2002

AVI BioPharma and International Therapeutics Enter Research Agreement to Target HIV Virus

PORTLAND, Ore. and SEATTLE, Wa. — Dec. 18, 2002 — AVI BioPharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: AVII, AVIIW, AVIIZ) today announced a research agreement with privately-held International Therapeutics, Inc. (ITI), to develop AVI’s proprietary NeuGene® antisense compounds as novel therapeutics for HIV.

As part of the agreement, ITI will collaborate in the development of NEUGENE antisense drugs targeting HIV and will test AVI’s antisense drugs in their proprietary systems. Promising lead compounds will be taken through preclinical and clinical development by AVI.

“We are very excited about the relationship with AVI BioPharma and the potential for NEUGENE antisense compounds as novel therapeutics for HIV,” said Omar K. Haffar, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and vice president of research and development at ITI. “Our expertise in drug discovery and development for HIV and AIDS, coupled with AVI’s expertise in targeting single stranded RNA viruses with NEUGENE antisense, promises to make this a uniquely productive relationship.”

AVI recently announced preclinical results targeting single stranded RNA viruses such as West Nile virus, Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and Calicivirus. Results in infected animals have shown that NEUGENE compounds will bind to the virus at a specific site on the sequence and prevent the virus from replicating. In effect, the NEUGENE shuts down the virus, thereby enabling the immune system to manage the ongoing infection.

“This collaboration broadens the scope of our viral program,” said Denis R. Burger, Ph.D., AVI’s CEO. “In conjunction with ITI, we’ll have the resources and expertise to study the effects of our antisense compounds on the HIV virus, one of the largest public health issues facing the world today.”

About International Therapeutics, Inc. (ITI)
International Therapeutics, Inc. (ITI) is a privately held Seattle biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of novel anti-viral therapies. The present focus of the Company is dedicated to finding new, safe and effective ways to combat HIV, a virus infecting over 40 million people worldwide. For more information, visit their website at http://www.internationaltherapeutics.com.

About AVI BioPharma
AVI BioPharma develops therapeutic products for the treatment of life-threatening diseases using two technology platforms: NeuGene antisense drugs and cancer immunotherapy. Its lead cancer agent, AVICINE®, a therapeutic cancer vaccine, has completed three Phase II trials in colorectal and pancreatic cancer and is initiating a Phase III pivotal trial in pancreatic cancer, with a supporting study in colorectal cancer. The first application of its NeuGene compounds, Resten-NG™, is designed to treat cancer, cardiovascular restenosis and other cell proliferation disorders by inhibiting the production of a cellular transcription factor, the oncogene c-myc. It is currently in Phase II trials for restenosis and in a Phase I/II trial for cancer. AVI has completed three Phase I NeuGene antisense studies that successfully down-regulated the liver enzyme cytochrome P450 and modified drug metabolism, and a Phase I/II trial in polycystic kidney disease. More information about AVI is available on the Company’s Web site at http://www.avibio.com/.

“Safe Harbor” Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: The statements that are not historical facts contained in this release are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, the results of research and development efforts, the results of preclinical and clinical testing, the effect of regulation by the FDA and other agencies, the impact of competitive products, product development, commercialization and technological difficulties, and other risks detailed in the Company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

AVI Contacts:
AVI BioPharma, Inc.
Denis R. Burger, Ph.D., CEO
Alan P. Timmins, President and COO

Investor Contacts:
Lippert/Heilshorn & Associates Inc.
Bruce Voss (bvoss@lhai.com)
Jody Cain (jcain@lhai.com)

Press Contacts:
Waggener Edstrom Bioscience
Jenny Moede (jmoede@wagged.com)
Andrew Fowler (andrewf@wagged.com)

ITI Contacts:
International Therapeutics, Inc.
Omar K. Haffar, Ph.D.CSO, VP R&D



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