Penn Researcher Receives $2 million From NIH to Test Macular Degeneration Drug

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Media Contact:Karen Kreeger | karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-349-5658February 15, 2011

John Lambris, PhD, the Dr. Ralph and Sallie Weaver Professor of Research Medicine in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Eye Institute to test a new class of drugs called complement inhibitors in a primate model of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The complement system is an evolutionarily ancient branch of the immune response. One of its key functions is to mark both bacterial and dying host cells for elimination by the body's cellular cleanup services; yet dysregulated complement has also been implicated in at least 30 diseases, including stroke, myocardial infarction, and AMD.

Complement inhibitors, discovered in the Lambris lab, were licensed by Louisville, KY-based Potentia Pharmaceuticals and are about to enter a Phase II clinical trial for the same disease (to be conducted by Alcon Inc.).

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