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$37 million financing for company based on macular degeneration research
Date:10/9/2007

New Haven, Conn. Optherion, Inc. a company that will use groundbreaking discoveries by scientists at Yale and the University of Iowa to develop products to diagnose and treat Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and other related chronic diseases has received $37 million in start-up financing.

Discoveries in 2005 by Josephine Hoh at Yale School of Public Health and Gregory Hageman at the University of Iowa linked Complement Factor H (CFH) and Complement Factor B (CFB) two elements of the alternate complement pathway of the immune system with AMD. These factors are involved in inflammatory responses, which can cause tissue damage when improperly controlled.

AMD is caused by degeneration of the macula, the region of the retina responsible for central vision. There are two forms of AMD, dry and wet. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 60 in the developed world. Dry AMD is the most common form, while wet AMD is a less prevalent and more aggressive form of the disease with growth of new blood vessels into the retina.

Optherions initial focus will be to develop disease-modifying therapies to prevent loss of vision in patients with dry AMD, as well as a portfolio of tests that predict, diagnose and monitor progression of the disease.

AMD is unusual because it is a widespread disease that is caused by common variations in only a few specific genes. Approximately 50% of patients with AMD suffer from variations in the CFH gene, and 74% of the disease can be explained by variations in the CFH and CFB genes combined. Variants in other genes, found on Chromosome 10, are also implicated in AMD, and will be a further focus for the companys development of therapeutic and diagnostic products.

In the future, the companys proprietary technologies will also be extended to the possible diagnosis and treatment of other chronic diseases related to the alternative complement system.

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Contact: Janet Rettig Emanuel
janet.emanuel@yale.edu
203-432-2157
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert

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