PHILADELPHIA, May 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Acuity Pharmaceuticals, a product- focused ophthalmic pharmaceutical company, today announced the formation of its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Acuity's lead candidate for macular degeneration, Cand5, is the first-ever RNA interference-based therapeutic to enter human studies and is progressing in its Phase I trials.
"As Acuity continues its initial safety studies for Cand5 and prepares for Phase 2 trials, the extensive experience of our SAB members in the development of novel ophthalmic therapies will be invaluable," said Dr. Alexander Brucker, chairman of the newly formed group. "We also are pleased to note that the interim top-line safety data from the Phase 1 study continue to be positive with no drug-related adverse events, and we look forward to sharing the full study results later this year."
The SAB includes Drs. Lloyd Paul Aiello, Alexander Brucker, Yihai Cao, Alan Gewirtz, Baruch Kuppermann, Richard McCloskey, Lawrence Singerman, William Tasman, Jason S. Slakter and Lawrence A. Yannuzzi. Additionally, Acuity has added Dr. Julia Haller as a clinical consultant and advisor.
"Acuity's pioneering approach to treating retinal diseases using RNA interference has helped us recruit this outstanding group of distinguished ophthalmic researchers and world-class scientists and clinicians to our SAB," said Dale Pfost, Ph.D., president and CEO of Acuity. "Their diverse experience in the science and clinical development of innovative therapeutics for retinal disorders will contribute greatly to our efforts to progress Cand5 through clinical trials and develop additional candidate drugs."
Brief biographies of the SAB members follow:
Alexander (Sandy) Brucker M.D. (SAB Chair), is a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania Scheie Eye Institute and editor-in-chief of RETINA(R), The Journal of Retina and Vitreous Diseases. He previously was president of the Macula Society, a member of the Council of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a voting member of the FDA's Ophthalmic Device Panel. Dr. Brucker is chairman of the Data Safety Monitoring Board for ongoing clinical research sponsored by industry and serves as consultant to multiple pharmaceutical companies in their development of clinical trials. He is a highly respected clinician and serves as a principal investigator for several clinical trials of new ophthalmic therapies.
Lloyd Paul Aiello M.D., Ph.D., is associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, assistant director of the William P. Beetham Eye Institute and head of the Section of Eye Research at the Joslin Diabetes Center. His research focuses on mechanisms underlying retinal disorders including VEGF, and he is an internationally recognized expert on diabetic retinopathy clinical trials. Dr Aiello is an author of numerous scientific publications.
Alan M. Gewirtz M.D., is professor of medicine, and pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. A pioneer in the development of RNA-based therapies to "silence" disease-causing genes, Dr. Gewirtz is an inventor of significant patents in the field of RNA interference that have been licensed to Acuity.
Baruch Kuppermann M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California at Irvine, focusing on drug delivery to the posterior of the eye and the development of new models of retinal angiogenesis. He has served as principal investigator for drug and device trials in diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
Richard McCloskey, M.S., M.D., is vice president, medical technology at Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation. His experience includes managing clinical research at Hoffmann-La Roche and research management positions at Centocor.
Lawrence Singerman M.D., is clinical professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a professor of clinical ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami. He has been a principal investigator for over 40 retinal clinical trials and a co-investigator for many others. Dr. Singerman, who is founder and executive secretary of the Macula Society, has served as vice chairman of the Council of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and is a past president of the Ohio Ophthalmological Society, the Cleveland Ophthalmologic Society and the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland.
Jason S. Slakter, M.D., a vitreoretinal surgeon and macular disease specialist at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and clinical professor of ophthalmology at NYU School of Medicine, is internationally recognized for his work in the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for retinal conditions. Dr. Slakter, who recently received the American Academy of Ophthalmology Senior Honor Award, is editor-in-chief of Retinal Physician and director of the Digital Angiography Reading Center.
William Tasman, M.D., chairman of the department of ophthalmology, Jefferson Medical College and ophthalmologist-in-chief of Wills Eye Hospital, is a nationally-known expert in vitreous and retinal diseases. He previously was president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, chairman of the American Board of Ophthalmology, president of The Retina Society and president of the American Ophthalmological Society, among others. Dr. Tasman has authored, coauthored or edited hundreds of journal articles, reviews, chapters and books. Among his many awards are the Jules Stein Living Tribute Award, AAO Life Achievement Award and Lucien Howe Medal.
Lawrence A. Yannuzzi, M.D., professor of clinical ophthalmology at Columbia University Medical School, is vice chairman, department of ophthalmology and surgeon director of ophthalmology at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. A pioneer in angiography and in developing new treatments for ophthalmic diseases, he is director and founder of the Vitreoretinal Fellowship, head and founder of the LuEsther T. Mertz Retinal Research Center and founder of The Macula Foundation. Dr. Yannuzzi has authored nine textbooks and over 270 publications.
Yihai Cao, M.D., Ph.D., a professor and team leader of the Microbiology and Tumor Biology Center at the Karolinska Institute, is an expert on angiogenesis who has recently been awarded the Eric K. Fernstrom prize for "his pioneering work" in angiogenesis and vascular growth.
Additionally, Julia A. Haller, M.D., is joining the Acuity team as clinical consultant and advisor. She is Katharine Graham professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, president-elect of the American Society of Retina Specialists, on the Executive Committee of the Retina Society, retina chair of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Program Committee, and on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, Retina and Retinal Physician. Dr. Haller's research and clinical practice focus on medical and surgical treatment of retinal diseases, especially new therapeutic and surgical strategies. She has published over 170 articles as well as 15 book chapters, and is the recipient of numerous honors, named lectureships and awards.
Founded in 2002, Acuity Pharmaceuticals is a product-focused ophthalmic pharmaceutical company applying its proprietary technology to the treatment and prevention of ophthalmic diseases, focusing initially on leveraging its strong technology and intellectual property portfolio in the field of RNA interference (RNAi). Acuity is developing treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR), two of the leading causes of adult vision loss in the developed world. Cand5, a small-interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutic shuts down vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which has been shown to be the central stimulus in the development of AMD and DR. In November 2004, Cand5 became the first-ever RNAi therapy to enter human trials. Its novel siRNA mechanism of action is expected to give Cand5 efficacy, safety and administration advantages over other therapies. For more information, see the company's website at http://www.acuitypharma.com/.
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