Apellis Pharmaceuticals announced today that it entered into an agreement to acquire Potentia Pharmaceuticals. As part of the acquisition agreement, Apellis obtained the necessary intellectual property rights to develop its complement inhibitor drug compound (APL-2) in ophthalmology and plans its first clinical trial in dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD).
Complement inhibition is the only mechanism thus far to show reductions in the growth of dry AMD. Potentia was the first company to develop a complement inhibitor for the treatment of AMD. APL-2 has the same mechanism of action as Potentia's original drug compound but has a significantly improved half-life in the eye. APL-2 is in late preclinical development in ophthalmology and is expected to enter Phase II clinical testing in patients with AMD by the middle of 2015.
Cedric Francois, MD, PhD and CEO of Apellis commented, "We are delighted to be back in retinal drug development. Ophthalmology is a unique therapeutic area that is very dear to us. We have learned much about complement since our first venture in this area a decade ago, and have great hopes that complement inhibition will be the first effective treatment for patients with dry AMD." Phil Rosenfeld, MD, a retinal specialist at Bascom Palmer and advisor to Apellis, added: "There's overwhelming scientific and clinical evidence to suggest that complement inhibition should slow the progression of dry AMD. I'm optimistic that based on its mechanism of action and its target within the complement cascade, APL-2 offers us the best chance to help our AMD patients."