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Optherion Licenses Worldwide Rights to Develop Age-Related Macular Degeneration Diagnostics Based on Chromosome 10 Genetic Variations
Date:10/23/2007

License with University of Pittsburgh Brings Additional Key Gene Locus as a

Development Opportunity for Recently-Funded Company

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Optherion, Inc., a company developing products to treat and diagnose dry and wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and other chronic diseases involving the alternative complement system, announced today that it has licensed from the University of Pittsburgh the worldwide rights to develop diagnostic products for AMD associated with specific variations in genes on Chromosome 10.

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh published in 2005 their findings of a link between Chromosome 10, specifically the LOC387715 and HTRA1 genes, and AMD, the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 in the developed world. Genetic tests that can identify people at risk of developing AMD, or that can predict the likely rate of progression and end-stage outcome of patients already diagnosed, should enable medical professionals to intervene more aggressively at an earlier stage with lifestyle changes and available therapies, thereby changing the course of disease.

AMD is caused by degeneration of the macula, the region of the retina responsible for central vision. AMD is unique in that it is a common disease that has recently been linked to common variations in only a few specific genes, presenting opportunities to develop both diagnostic tests and disease- modifying treatments. There are 15-20 million people with AMD in the U.S. and more than 50 million worldwide.

Optherion announced on October 9 that it had completed a $37 million financing. The Company was founded following scientific discoveries published in 2005 linking the role of Complement Factor H (CFH) and Complement Factor B (CFB) -- both regulators of the alternative complement pathway - to AMD. Three gene loci have been strongly linked to AMD: CFH, CFB, and specific variations on Chromosome 10. About half of
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SOURCE Optherion, Inc.
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