Louisville, Ky. – Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today that it is entering the clinical phase of development for POT-4, its lead drug candidate for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). POT-4 is a complement inhibitor, which shuts down the complement activation system that could lead to local inflammation, tissue damage and upregulation of angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Four landmark studies published in April 2005 demonstrated a genetic link between the complement system and AMD, providing evidence that complement activation plays a significant role in the cause of the disease. Less than two years after the publication of the studies, POT-4 will be the first complement inhibitor tested in patients with AMD.
"These recent data have sparked hope that AMD can be treated with complement inhibitors, which help treat the early stages of the disease. We are hopeful that POT-4 may represent a new therapeutic option for patients with dry and wet forms of the disease," said Cedric Francois, M.D., Ph.D., Potentia's President and CEO.
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.