OGI invests in personalized medicine for age-related macular degeneration

November 01, 2010

Established in 2007 and based in Toronto, ArcticDx has developed a test, Macula Risk®, the first of its kind and specifically designed to determine one's inherited risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common form of acquired blindness in the developed world, affecting over 10% of individuals. ArcticDx will use the PBDF investment to undertake studies in support of a planned filing for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for Macula Risk.

Macula Risk detects variations in genetic markers known to predict the progression of early asymptomatic AMD to blindness using a cheek swab sample. The eyesight of individuals who are genetically predisposed to blindness can be saved through enhanced surveillance and early treatment. Macula Risk helps target effective care to those who need it most and relieves others who would otherwise live with uncertainty.

"The investment from OGI will support our filing for FDA approval for Macula Risk," commented Mr. Gregory Hines, CEO of ArcticDx. "We think this approval is an important departure from the growing trend of direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests that have only a weak link to science and are often of no clinical value. Macula Risk stands as the best example of a validated test for a multi-genetic common human disease. Achieving FDA approval will position Macula Risk for wide spread adoption."

The Macula Risk test will be marketed to eye care professionals who manage most cases of AMD in North America. These doctors will offer the test to individuals with the dry form of the disease who have not yet lost vision.

In the industrialized world, AMD is the major cause of uncorrectable vision loss in the elderly, affecting over 2.5 million people in Canada and over 25 million people in the USA. Age‐related macular degeneration is generally a disease of the elderly with the worldwide incidence of the disease growing from one in ten people over the age of 60 to more than 1 in 4 people over the age of 75. Macular degeneration is more common than Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

"Application of genomics technologies is opening the door to an era of personalized medicine in our approach to preventing, detecting and treating human disease," commented Dr. Christian Burks, President and CEO, OGI. "We are particularly pleased to be investing in a company that grew out of applied research funded by Genome Canada through OGI."

The funded work will focus on a cohort of patient samples who had early stage AMD in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a large eye survey carried out by the American National Eye Institute. These patients were followed over a five-year period to determine progression of the disease. The ArcticDx team will undertake a prospective study on this cohort to evaluate use of Macula Risk in predicting which patients will progress to wet AMD (the late form of AMD) and which will not.

OGI's PBDF program invests in opportunities -- based in genomics, proteomics or associated technologies -- that fall in the proof-of-principle (validation) phase of research and that have the short-term potential to secure a significant next step towards the marketplace. Previous recipients have included Ontario universities, research institutes and companies.
-end-


Ontario Genomics Institute

Related Macular Degeneration Articles from Brightsurf:

Levodopa may improve vision in patients with macular degeneration
Investigators have determined that treating patients with an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with levodopa, a safe and readily available drug commonly used to treat Parkinson's disease, stabilized and improved their vision.

Combating drug resistance in age-related macular degeneration
An international team of researchers led by Baylor College of Medicine and Houston Methodist has discovered a strategy that can potentially address a major challenge to the current treatment for age-related macular degeneration,

Study finds unexpected suspect in age-related macular degeneration
Scientists have identified an unexpected player in the immune reaction gone awry that causes vision loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a new study published today in eLife.

Potential way to halt blinding macular degeneration identified
It would be the first treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration and could significantly improve treatment for wet AMD.

Heating techniques could improve treatment of macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is the primary cause of central vision loss and results in the center of the visual field being blurred or fully blacked out.

Eye's vulnerability to macular degeneration revealed
Scientists have found significant differences in the shape and biology of the same type of cell taken from different parts of the retina, according to a study in eLife.

Hallucinations associated with brain hyperactivity in people with macular degeneration
New research from The University of Queensland has shown for the first time that visual hallucinations in people with macular degeneration are associated with abnormally heightened activity in the visual cortex of the brain.

Eating leafy greens could help prevent macular degeneration
A new study has shown that eating vegetable nitrates, found mainly in green leafy vegetables and beetroot, could help reduce your risk of developing early-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

An orange a day keeps macular degeneration away: 15-year study
A new study has shown that people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who do not eat oranges.

Macular degeneration linked to aging immune cells
Studying mice and cells from patients, vision researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Read More: Macular Degeneration News and Macular Degeneration Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.