Louisville, Ky. – Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today that it closed a $5 million round of financing. The funds will be used in part to support the pre-clinical and clinical development of Potentia's main drug candidate, POT-4. POT-4 is a derivative of Compstatin, a peptide that inhibits complement activation. POT-4 is initially being developed for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
About the Complement System and Compstatin
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 2 years, multiple scientific publications have strongly linked variants of genes encoding components of the complement system with a predisposition toward AMD.
Compstatin is a synthetic peptide discovered by Prof. John Lambris at the University of Pennsylvania. It 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 Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD is the progressive deterioration of the critical central region of the retina called the macula. This disorder leads to irreversible loss of central vision. More than 25 million patients worldwide (9 million in the US alone) suffer from AMD, including roughly one-quarter of those 70 years and older. Ten percent of patients with AMD develop a complication in which leaky blood vessels grow into the eye. This form of the disease is referred to as 'neovascular' or 'wet' AMD, as opposed to 'atrophic' or 'dry' AMD when this complication does not emerge. Treatment of AMD is currently limited to drugs that prevent blood vessel growth and are therefore only efficacious in cases of wet AMD.
About Potentia's AMD Program
With the ultimate goal of making AMD a preventable disease, Potentia's AMD program focuses on developing new therapies that target AMD early in the disease process. Potentia's first series of products will be Compstatin-based complement inhibitors formulated to protect patients from the disease for one year or more after each treatment.
About Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (http://www.potentiapharma.com) is a private, development-stage biotechnology company based in Louisville, KY with operations in Boston, MA. Together with its corporate and academic partners, Potentia is developing new approaches to the treatment of complement-related chronic inflammatory diseases such as AMD.