Apellis Pharmaceuticals has begun the phase I clinical trial of its drug compound APL-2 in patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The trial, labeled ASAP II, will focus on establishing safety of intravitreal injections of APL-2 and will be conducted in patients afflicted with wet AMD at multiple sites in the U.S. and Australia. Apellis plans to follow ASAP II with a larger phase II trial in patients with geographic atrophy (the advanced stage of dry AMD) in the late spring of 2015.
Dr. Cedric Francois, the CEO of Apellis, said, "We look forward to continuing the exploration of complement immunotherapy in macular degeneration alongside our other disease indications. By acting centrally in the complement cascade we believe that APL-2 provides a unique opportunity to better understand the mechanisms that might modify this difficult disease."
AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over the age of 65 in the U.S. and other western countries. The advanced forms of AMD are classified into either choroidal neovascularization (neovascular or exudative AMD, called "wet" AMD) or dry AMD. Dry AMD is responsible for approximately 20% of all legal cases of blindness in North America. While there is treatment for wet AMD with anti-VEGF therapies such as ranibizumab (Lucentis) and aflibercept (Eylea), no therapy exists for dry AMD.