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Potentia Pharmaceuticals Appoints Johanna M. Seddon, M.D. and Janet Stoltz Sunness, M.D. to Scientific Advisory Board

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Potentia Pharmaceuticals, a privately held biotechnology company developing medicines for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), announced today the appointments of Johanna M. Seddon, M.D. and Janet Stoltz Sunness, M.D. to its Scientific Advisory Board effective November 6, 2008.

Dr. Seddon is a world known macular degeneration specialist and pioneer in nutritional and genetic research in age-related macular degeneration, as well as an international leader in the field of ophthalmic epidemiology. For more than 20 years Dr. Seddon has directed NIH-based research on epidemiologic, biologic, and genetic biomarkers for macular degeneration and has made original contributions in these areas. Dr. Seddon is Professor of Ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine and founding director of the Ophthalmic Epidemiology & Genetics Service at the New England Eye Center. She was a vice president and trustee of ARVO, and the recipient of the inaugural Maurice F. Rabb, Jr. Award from Prevent Blindness America, for dedication and contributions to prevention and treatment of age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Sunness is an accomplished researcher in understanding how diseases cause loss of vision and has directed several National Institutes of Health-funded studies in this field. Currently, Dr. Sunness is a medical director at Hoover Services for Low Vision and Blindness at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Her clinical practice focuses on low vision and on retinal and macular disease. An ophthalmologist by training, Dr. Sunness is a leading world expert on geographic atrophy, the advanced dry form of age-related macular degeneration and has also pioneered new methods of measuring visual function. Dr. Sunness is also a leading world expert on how pregnancy affects the mother's eyes, both in cases of pre-existing conditions like diabetes as well as when diseases develop during pregnancy.

"We are very fortunate to have individuals of Dr. Seddon's and Dr. Sunness' standing and knowledge join Potentia's Scientific Advisory Board," said Cedric Francois, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer for Potentia. "They are both extremely accomplished and held in very high regard in their fields. Their valuable insights and expertise will be of great value as we continue to develop our drug candidate, POT-4, which we believe holds great promise as a leading drug candidate in the treatment of both dry and wet AMD."

About AMD

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly of the western world and affects more than 10 million patients in the United States alone. The current standard of care for AMD relies primarily on angiogenesis inhibitors, an approach geared towards the approximately 10-15% of AMD patients with complications resulting from ocular angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels and bleeding in the back of the eye). No drug currently on the market has been approved for the treatment of the remaining patients, who suffer from the so-called "dry" form of the disease.

About the Complement System and POT-4

Complement activation is an inflammatory process involving dozens of plasma proteins, ultimately leading to cell membrane disruption through the membrane attack complex (MAC). Activation of the complement system is an important part of the body's defensive immune response against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. In spite of its defensive function, inappropriate or excessive complement activation can have destructive consequences if left unchecked. Over the past three years, multiple scientific publications have strongly linked variants of genes encoding components of the complement system with a predisposition toward AMD.

POT-4 binds tightly to complement component C3, preventing its participation in the complement activation cascade. As C3 is the central component of all major complement activation pathways, its inhibition effectively shuts down downstream complement activation that could otherwise lead to local inflammation, tissue damage and upregulation of angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF).

About Potentia

Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel therapeutics and drug delivery technologies to address chronic inflammatory diseases, with an initial emphasis on diseases of the eye such as age-related macular degeneration.

SOURCE Potentia Pharmaceuticals
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