Reutlingen, September 2012 -- AMD Therapy has started a new model to finance early drug development for dry age-
related macular degeneration (dry AMD). People joining the German-based AMD
Therapy cooperative together finance a fund dedicated to investment in early AMD
projects. With its focus on a single disease, the fund is generating added value - those
concerned with the disease have the chance to get future treatment, quite apart from
the financial return. AMD Therapy has now launched its English website www.amd-
There is still no drug available for the treatment of dry age-related macular degeneration.
Many people believe this is due to lack of research and academic inventions. The truth is that
many inventions, even patented approaches, never make it through early development due
to lack of financing. Each year, about 10,000 new patents in the pharmaceutical field only
yield about 30 new drugs approved by regulatory authorities. While new approvals often
show similar effects to existing drugs (e.g. Eylea and Lucentis for wet AMD) the potential of
most innovative approaches is never really tested during the early phases of development –
due to lack of funds.
Investment in these phases is rare for a reason - the pharmaceutical industry and venture
capital shy away from the capital intensive development, the risk associated with it and the
time-consuming development cycles. At the other end, universities and foundations are
limited to funding product development with government or tax privileged funds. Private
profits may not to be subsidized with the taxpayer’s money. As a result, the financing gap
between academia and industry is a known and unsolved problem for most inventions in the
To the disadvantage of patients and their loved ones. The market is not providing them with
effective and tolerable treatments although there are promising approaches ready to be
evaluated in early development phases. Patients are often desperately waiting for a change
in their situation and the uncertainty predominant in early development phases must appear
like an opportunity to them, rather than a risk as purely financially motivated investors too
often see it.
AMD Therapy offers a crowd financing solution for this situation for people concerned with
dry AMD. A unique model allows the individual to invest as little as 3,000 EUR (about 3,700
US$). In total the fund wants to raise 60 million EUR (about 72 million US$). This amount
would allow a few AMD approaches to be carried through the early phases of development,
to prove their potential and thereby attract interest from pharmaceutical developers. If
successful, investors would gain both the financial return and a prospective new treatment
for their disease. With its crowd financing model, AMD Therapy spreads the risk and the
capital need over many shoulders. About 20 million people in the US and Europe suffer from
the dry form of AMD. If one in a thousand invested in AMD Therapy, the fund would be filled.
A professional portfolio management and a specialized investment advisory board take care
of the investment decisions. The team involves specialists in research, development and the
business of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical field. The focus on a single disease allows
the bundling of considerable expertise for retinal eye research and drug development. The
investment advisory board includes Dr. Hendrik Scholl (Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins,
Baltimore, USA) and Dr. Ulrich Schraermeyer (University Eye Hospital, Tuebingen,
Germany), two internationally acknowledged academic AMD specialists. Dr. Baldo
Scassellati Sforzolini (Bausch & Lomb, New Jersey, USA), and Dr. Hermann Schulze
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(Novartis Subsidiary Esbatech, Zurich, Switzerland) bring extensive experience for back of
the eye drug development, evaluation of new technologies, and regulatory affairs. Christina
Fasser represents patient issues and as president of Retina International, she is well
connected in research and industry.
After setting up business in German earlier this year, AMD Therapy has now launched its
English website: www.amd-therapy.de/en.
About AMD Therapy eG:
AMD Therapy eG is a registered cooperative under German law. As such, it is a for profit company
owned by its members. One share is 3,000 EUR. A total of 20,000 shares are on offer to the public.
The funds of the cooperative are invested in technology companies dedicated to the development of
new therapies for dry AMD. The investment vehicle is a private partnership (AMD Therapy eG & Co.
Fund KG) with AMD Therapy eG being the general partner.
About 20 million people in the USA and Europe show symptoms of age-related macular degeneration.
About a quarter of them suffer from late stages of the disease. In the case of dry AMD, so-called
geographic atrophy results in the loss of rods and cones in the field of central vision causing central
blindness. In the case of wet AMD, leaky, abnormal blood vessels grow into the retina from the
choriocapillaris. Both late stages can lead to massive visual loss. In legal terms, AMD is the most
common cause of blindness in the western world, although patients will not become totally blind. The
onset of the disease is usually from age 50 onwards. Prevalence increases drastically with age.
For the dry form, there is still no approved drug treatment. Doctors recommend a healthy life style
(healthy nutrition, no smoking, maintaining low blood pressure). Regular consumption of nutritional
supplements such as vitamin C, E, beta-carotin, zinc, copper, lutein, or zeaxanthin have been shown
to have the potential to slow down the onset of late stages of the disease in certain situations. For the
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usually only stop the progression of the disease and not restore lost vision.
Hope for new treatment options for dry AMD
Basic research in universities, research institutions and also results within enterprises keep generating
discoveries which provide great hope for improved therapeutic options. This is also true for the
indication dry age-related macular degeneration. A number of projects exist with patent protection,
preliminary data or even advanced data which are transitioning from the research to the development
stage or which have completed the first steps of development. For example, such projects are now
testing the following hypotheses:
? Removal of drusen from the eye can be achieved. This could well result in the elimination of
one of the possible triggers of advanced AMD, thus slowing down or halting the progression of
? Further deposit of age pigment (lipofuscin) can be reduced. Lipofuscin is understood to be a
probable cause of AMD, therefore the reduction of further deposits could slow the progression
? Removal of lipofuscin. Lipofuscin can be almost entirely removed from cells of the eye with
drug treatment. A postulated cause of AMD would thereby be eliminated. This could stop the
progression of the disease.
? Blood flow in the coroid is improved through medical treatment. Impaired blood circulation in
the choroid is considered to be a possible starting point of pathogenic events in AMD. An
improved blood supply could stop the progression of the disease.
? Repair mechanisms of aging or functionally impaired cells are improved as a consequence of
drug treatment. This may stop the progression of AMD.
? Inflammatory processes in the pathogenesis of AMD are reduced with medical treatment. This
could hinder cell death.
? Gene therapy approaches enable the eye to be provided with the proteins needed as a
consequence of genetic mutations or other reasons.
? Sensory cells are protected by metabolic factors. This could slow down or stop the
progression of the disease.
? Improved methods of vision analysis allow an earlier discovery of dry AMD earlier and a better
assessment of the progression of the disease. This would mean that existing or future
treatments could be applied earlier and therefore with improved efficacy. Needless treatment
using substances with the risk of side effects could be prevented. Furthermore, such methods
could be used for the development of new therapies in clinical phases.
? Stem cell approaches replace dead or functionally impaired cells in the eye and replace their
? New methods enable the brain to make better use of the remaining optical signals.
? Specific visual aids optimize the use of remaining vision, for example by redirecting focal light
to the periphery where sensory cells have not yet died.
? New antibodies can be useful for the treatment of AMD.
Researchers and developers seeking money for the development of these approaches have already
contacted AMD Therapy. They want to improve the therapeutic situation in dry AMD with new safe and
efficacious treatment options by developing them towards the market.
AMD Therapy eG, Gerhard-Kindler-Str. 8, 72770 Reutlingen, Germany
Dr. Wolfgang Klein (Member of the Executive Board) Tel. +49-7121-6 96 41-50
Andreas Mayr (Member of the Executive Board) Tel. +49-7121-6 96 41-70