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Penn Licenses Ophthalmic RNAi Technology to Acuity

NEW YORK, May 5 - The University of Pennsylvania has granted Acuity Pharmaceuticals an exclusive license to RNA interference technologies invented by researchers at the university, Acuity said today.


The technology, invented by Alan Gerwitz, Enrico Maria Surace, Michael Tolentino, and Samuel Reich, researchers at Penn's Scheie Eye Institute, uses short interfering RNA to silence specific target genes related to ophthalmic diseases.


Tolentino and Reich are consultants to Acuity, which plans to commercialize siRNA technology as well as other methods for the treatment of ocular diseases.


Scientists from the company and the university presented the results of their research today at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. In one study, they demonstrated that siRNA directed against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) could inhibit age-related wet macular degeneration in animal models. The Penn research team also demonstrated the first successful delivery of siRNA into the mouse retina in vivo, the ability of siRNA to silence gene expression in different types of cells, and siRNA's stability in the murine retina over time.

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