Healthcare Industry News:  mitochondrial diseases 

Biopharmaceuticals Ophthalmology

 News Release - October 2, 2006

Edison Pharma and Institute of Vision Enter Into Collaboration

Development of Therapeutics Targeting Mitochondrial Eye Disease

SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 2 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- Edison Pharmaceuticals announced today that it has entered into collaboration with the Institute of Vision, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the development of drugs targeting Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). LHON is an inherited disease affecting vision, whose onset is sudden, without warning, and results in blindness. There are no treatments.

LHON arises from impairments in energy production in the eye. It is caused by genetic defects in the mitochondria -- the cellular structure responsible for energy generation. While in relative terms a rare disease, a renewed interest in LHON has been sparked by both the emergence of potential mitochondrial therapies and LHON's relationship to more common retinal diseases that may share similar biochemical mechanisms.

Edison is teaming with the Institute of Vision and its LHON international consortium of researchers and clinicians to enable evaluation of Edison's drugs that target inherited mitochondrial diseases. Founded in 2001, this consortium is represented by over 37 members worldwide, and has authored benchmark clinical and scientific papers on LHON.

The Institute of Vision and its LHON consortium scientists have been working to understand LHON, its cause and progression to enable the development of new treatments. "Given our access to an extensive pedigree of patients with LHON residing in Brazil, the Institute of Vision has served as a center for LHON investigations," stated Dr. Rubens Belfort Jr., Professor and President of the Institute of Vision. "Our goal is to expand our knowledge of LHON, thereby developing new diagnostic tests and drugs for LHON and related mitochondrial diseases of the eye."

"The Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California is a founding and participating member of the LHON consortium," stated Alfredo Sadun, MD, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology, Doheny Eye Institute. "Having laid the groundwork over the last five years in aggregating and evaluating this unique patient population, we are enthusiastic about applying this knowledge to the development of mitochondrial drugs."

Today there are no treatments for LHON, however with an increased understanding of mitochondrial disease, new potential therapies are emerging. Through its internal discovery efforts and through collaboration with Columbia University, University of Southern California Doheny Eye Institute and the University of Bologna, Edison is evaluating new classes of potential drugs for mitochondrial diseases that affect the eye.

"Edison has been working with several members of the LHON international consortium for over a year, and is extending its ophthalmologic program to the Institute of Vision in Brazil," stated Guy Miller, CEO, Edison. "As many mitochondrial diseases, including LHON, have significant visual disturbances associated with them, we see this effort has having broad therapeutic applications for drugs under development at Edison."

About Edison Pharmaceuticals

Edison Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is focused on the development of drugs to treat inherited respiratory chain diseases of the mitochondria -- also referred to as energy impairment diseases. The company has received Orphan Designation status by the Food & Drug Administration for EPI-A0001 for inherited respiratory chain diseases and is advancing this candidate into clinical development. Edison Pharma possesses a specialized working knowledge in redox pharmacology and translational biology pertaining to bioenergetics and disease. The company's business is focused on orphan products, which treat diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 individuals in the US. Edison has obtained substantial non-dilutive peer-reviewed support to advance both its pre-clinical and clinical initiatives from foundations and government organizations including the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance, the National Institutes of Health Rapid Access to Interventional Development (RAID) Pilot Program, Cure Huntington's Disease Initiative, Inc., Muscular Dystrophy Association, Seek A Miracle/MDA and the City of San Jose, CA.


Source: Edison Pharmaceuticals

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