Healthcare Industry News:  retinitis pigmentosa 

Devices Ophthalmology

 News Release - April 27, 2006

Intelligent Medical Implants Will Present Clinical Data Related to Its Artificial Vision Breakthrough: The Learning Retinal Implant(R)

Data to be presented at 2006 Annual Meeting of ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology), April 30--May 4, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

BONN, Germany--(HSMN NewsFeed)--April 27, 2006--Results will demonstrate how, for the first time, electronic signals were able to be sent via wireless transmission and received by a learning retinal implant, which then enabled retinal-blinded patients with no light perception to 'see' light and patterns.

IIP-Technologies GmbH, on behalf of its parent company Intelligent Medical Implants AG ("IMI") (www.intmedimplants.com), announced today that the results of a limited clinical study related to its ongoing Early Human Trial will be presented in a poster session at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., which begins on Saturday. The results to be presented will demonstrate that IMI's patented, first-generation Learning Retinal Implant(TM) enabled patients to see light--as well as simple patterns--via a wireless transmission of data and energy. This is the first time in the history of the development of artificial vision that completely wireless transmission of data and energy into an implant in the eye of long-time blind persons has resulted in pattern recognition.

The Learning Retinal Implant has been successfully implanted in four patients for a duration of up to 20 weeks to date (the first implantation occurred in late-November 2005). Subsequent clinical testing of the IMI device with these patients commenced on schedule beginning in January 2006 at the University of Hamburg (Germany) Medical School under principal investigator Prof. Gisbert Richard, Professor of Ophthalmology. Each of the implantations has been "extremely well-tolerated" and fixation of the implant has been "stable, with no inflammatory reactions," according to Prof. Richard.

"It is important to emphasize that each of these blind persons had no visual perception whatsoever, yet upon wireless stimulation of their retina via the Learning Retinal Implant, they were able to 'see' something," said Hans-Jurgen Tiedtke, CEO of IIP-Technologies, a subsidiary of IMI. "Of course, further clinical testing is needed and planned, but we are nonetheless extremely encouraged by these results. It is our expectation that, in the foreseeable future, our Learning Retinal Implant System, along with rehabilitation, may allow patients to recognize objects by identifying their size, as well as their position, movements and shapes. In other words, a blind person, using our Learning Retinal Implant System, is expected to be able to move independently in an unfamiliar environment--thus enabling him or her to lead an autonomous life. There can be no doubt that development of a wireless visual prosthesis that could be implanted permanently with good results is the 'Holy Grail' of artificial vision," added Mr. Tiedtke.

IMI's initial clinical-indication focus is blind persons with retinitis pigmentosa ('RP'), one of the two most common causes of vision loss in persons over the age of 50 by hereditary degenerative retinal diseases. RP is considered irreversible, and no treatment or cure is known to date. Several million people are affected worldwide.

About the Learning Retinal Implant System(TM)

IMI's Learning Retinal Implant System(TM) replaces the signal-processing functions of a healthy retina and provides input to the retinal nerve cells (the ganglion cells) that, in turn, provide input to the optic nerve and the brain. The System comprises three main components: (1) an implant, "The Retinal Stimulator", which is surgically placed into the eye of a patient, who wears (2) a pair of spectacles containing an integrated mini-camera and transmitter components for wireless signal and energy transmission ("The Visual Interface"). Via a cable, the spectacles are connected to (3) "The Pocket Processor" worn at the patient's waist. This device replaces the information processing function of the formally healthy retina. The use of a high-speed digital signal processor allows the provision of "intelligent information" to the implant (and the nerve cells) by using tuneable software to approximate the information processing normally carried out by the healthy retina. The entire process enables patients to optimize their visual perception during the learning phase. Indeed, using the patient's feedback on perception as an input for the tuning of The Pocket Processor is the unique, patent-protected feature of the System and constitutes the 'learning' capability of the Learning Retinal Implant System(TM).

About retinitis pigmentosa

More than one million persons worldwide are affected by the hereditary disease, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), in which the light-sensitive cells of the retina slowly degenerate and die. In about one-third of the affected persons, the disease leads to total blindness over a period of years. Scientific studies have shown, however, that certain adjoining nerve cells remain intact even in persons blinded by the disease. Most persons with RP develop early symptoms between the ages of 10 and 30. The most common first symptom is difficulty in seeing in poor light, for example outdoors at dusk, or in a dimly lit room. A second symptom is reduction of the visual field, in which sight is lost from the sides, or from above and below. This is often referred to as tunnel vision. All RP conditions are progressive. There is currently no treatment to cure RP or arrest its progress.

About Intelligent Medical Implants ("IMI")

Intelligent Medical Implants AG, based in Zug, Switzerland--with its subsidiaries IIP-Technologies GmbH and Intelligent Medical Implants Ltd. (collectively referred to as "IMI Group")--is developing the Learning Retinal Implant System(TM), the first product of its developing neuro-prosthetics technology platform. The Company's platform aims to give blind people useful visual functionality. The technology integrated into the Company's first product will permit the development, marketing and licensing of further learning neural prostheses for active "intelligent" implantable medical devices. The primary shareholder of IMI is Polytechnos Venture Partners in Munich, Germany.

Safe-Harbor Statement

This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including 'forward-looking statements' within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Company. They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance. Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements.


Source: Intelligent Medical Implants

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