04 Nov WARF licenses patents for new glaucoma drug treatment
Madison, Wis. — The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has licensed three patents for developing a new drug that targets the underlying cause of glaucoma, a group of diseases that can lead to blindness.
The patents are based on research conducted by Paul Kaufman, a University of Wisconsin professor and chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and Benjamin Geiger, dean of biology and professor of molecular cell and tumor biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Inspire Pharmaceuticals of Durham, North Carolina, has the license agreement and expects FDA approval by the end of 2005, if research results go as planned.
Kaufman and Geiger have worked together for about 10 years on a compound that reduces ocular pressure on the eye. Kaufman has worked for more than 30 years investigating the use of drugs that target an area in front of the eye known as the trabecula meshwork.
Too much pressure damages the optic nerve at the back of the eye, resulting in the eventual loss of vision. The drug being evaluated induces changes in the trabecula meshwork that will allow fluid drainage from the eye and reduce pressure from excess fluid buildup.
Under the terms of the agreement, Inspire will fund all further research, development, testing, regulatory filings and marketing and pay WARF potential milestone payments, a one-time upfront payment and royalties on sales of any regulatory approved product developed from this technology. An Inspire company spokesman said the glaucoma drug market currently yields $1.5 billion a year. Glaucoma affects an estimated 2.2 million people in the United States.