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UI licensee Optherion secures $37 million in financing
Date:10/9/2007

Optherion, Inc., a University of Iowa Research Foundation licensee and a company developing products to diagnose and treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other chronic diseases, today announced that it has completed $37 million startup financing.

The company, which has offices and laboratories in New Haven, Conn., will expand into new facilities at the UI's Oakdale Research Park in Coralville this fall.

Optherion (http://www.optherion.com) will pursue advanced treatments and diagnostics for AMD and other diseases using core technology licensed from the UI Research Foundation. The company was founded based on scientific discoveries by Gregory Hageman, Ph.D., UI professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and Josephine Hoh, Ph.D., at Yale University.

In 2005, Hageman and researchers at Columbia University, the National Institutes of Health, and other institutions reported that two genes involved in controlling inflammation -- complement factor H and complement factor B -- account for nearly three out of four cases of AMD. Variations in these two genes alter the function of a key pathway in the immune system (called the alternative complement system) which researchers believe leads to AMD.

"Without question, the research discoveries by Dr. Hageman and his collaborators have been major steps in advancing our understanding of this debilitating disease," said Jean Robillard, UI vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine. "Now, with this collaboration between the University of Iowa and Optherion becoming a reality, we are uniquely positioned to pursue treatments that address the needs of AMD patients everywhere."

Meredith Hay, UI vice president for research, emphasized the statewide effort that made Optherion's expansion in Iowa a reality. "We are delighted that Professor Hageman's research has contributed to Optherion's growth a
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Contact: David Pedersen
david-pedersen@uiowa.edu
319-335-8032
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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