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Metabasis Therapeutics Announces Resignation of Dr. Paul Laikind and the Promotion of Dr. Mark Erion to Chief Executive Officer

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 15, 2008--Metabasis Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq:MBRX) announced that Paul Laikind, Ph.D. has resigned as the Company's president and chief executive officer to pursue other opportunities. Dr. Laikind will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors. In conjunction with Dr. Laikind's resignation, Mark D. Erion, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and executive vice president of research and development and a member of Metabasis' board of directors, has been named president, chief executive officer and chief scientific officer.

"On behalf of the board of directors and the Metabasis team, I would like to thank Paul for his efforts over the past ten years in leading Metabasis," stated David F. Hale, chairman of the board. "Paul, Mark and the Metabasis team have built a promising pipeline of product candidates. We look forward to working with Mark to advance this product pipeline and to build long term shareholder value."

Dr. Erion is one of the founders of Metabasis and has served as executive vice president of research and development since April 1997 and on the board of directors since June 1999. In November 2005, Dr. Erion was appointed chief scientific officer. At Metabasis, Dr. Erion has been responsible for building the research and development teams that advanced five candidates into clinical development and for discovering the Company's HepDirect and NuMimetic technologies. Prior to Metabasis, Dr. Erion was at Gensia where he became vice president of research in 1996 after serving as their head of chemistry and biochemistry. Prior to Gensia, Dr. Erion was a research scientist and group leader at Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceutical Company. Dr. Erion received a B.S. with honors in mathematics and chemistry from the University of Oregon, a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cornell University and was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Erion has authored over 112 publications and is named as an inventor on 35 U.S. patents.

Dr. Erion stated, "I look forward to working with the dedicated Metabasis team and the board of directors to address the challenges and opportunities ahead. We will be working diligently to build shareholder value through strategic collaborations and through the advancement of our core clinical and discovery programs to key value driving events. Most importantly, we strongly believe that we have the technology, the product pipeline and the scientific and clinical development capability to build Metabasis into a successful biopharmaceutical company."

About Metabasis (www.mbasis.com):

Metabasis is a biopharmaceutical company using its proprietary technologies, scientific expertise and unique capabilities for targeting the liver and liver pathways to develop novel therapies to treat metabolic and other diseases. The Company has established a broad pipeline of product candidates and advanced research programs targeting large markets with significant unmet needs. Metabasis' core area of focus is on the discovery and development of product candidates to treat metabolic diseases such as hyperlipidemia and diabetes, among others. Although not a core focus of the Company, Metabasis has also discovered and is developing product candidates indicated for the treatment of liver diseases such as hepatitis and primary liver cancer, which it now intends to license or sell. All product candidates have been developed internally using proprietary technologies.

Forward-Looking Statements:

Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical in nature constitute "forward-looking statements." Such statements include, but are not limited to, references to Metabasis' product pipeline, capabilities and long term goals. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause Metabasis' actual results to be materially different from historical results or from any results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties related to the progress and timing of clinical trials for Metabasis' product candidates; the fact that positive results from preclinical studies and early clinical trials does not necessarily mean later clinical trials will succeed; difficulties or delays in development, testing, obtaining regulatory approval, producing and marketing Metabasis' product candidates; serious adverse side effects or inadequate efficacy of, or serious adverse events related to, Metabasis' product candidates or proprietary technologies; the risk that Metabasis will not be able to build more value or retain rights for direct commercialization of its product candidates; Metabasis' dependence on its licensees and collaborators for the clinical development and registration of, as well as information relating to, certain of its product candidates; potential conflicts with collaborators that could delay or prevent the development or commercialization of Metabasis' product candidates; the scope and validity of intellectual property protection for Metabasis' product candidates, proprietary technologies and their uses; competition from other pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies; Metabasis' ability to obtain additional financing to support its operations; ability to generate financing through partnerships; maintaining compliance with Nasdaq Global Market continued listing requirements; and other factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of Metabasis' Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2008. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. Metabasis is providing this information as of this date of this release and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

    CONTACT: for Metabasis Therapeutics
             CCB Consulting
             Constance Bienfait, 858-622-5575

    Source: Metabasis Therapeutics, Inc.
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