Potentia Pharmaceuticals Announces Initiation of Phase I Clinical Trials to Evaluate its Lead Compound for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    POT-4 is the first complement inhibitor for age-related macular
    degeneration to enter clinical phase of development

    LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 20 /CNW/ -- Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
announced today that it is entering the clinical phase of development for
POT-4, its lead drug candidate for the treatment of age-related macular
degeneration (AMD).  POT-4 is a complement inhibitor, which shuts down the
complement activation system that could lead to local inflammation, tissue
damage and upregulation of angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial
growth factor (VEGF).
    Four landmark studies published in April 2005 demonstrated a genetic link
between the complement system and AMD, providing evidence that complement
activation plays a significant role in the cause of the disease.  Less than
two years after the publication of the studies, POT-4 will be the first
complement inhibitor tested in patients with AMD.
    "These recent data have sparked hope that AMD can be treated with
complement inhibitors, which help treat the early stages of the disease. We
are hopeful that POT-4 may represent a new therapeutic option for patients
with dry and wet forms of the disease," said Cedric Francois, M.D., Ph.D.,
Potentia's President and CEO.
    AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly of the western world
and affects more than 10 million patients in the United States alone.  The
current standard of care for AMD relies primarily on angiogenesis inhibitors,
an approach geared towards the approximately 10-15% of AMD patients with
complications resulting from ocular angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels
and bleeding in the back of the eye).  No drug currently on the market has
been approved for the treatment of the remaining patients, who suffer from the
so-called "dry" form of the disease.

    About the Complement System and POT-4

    Complement activation is an inflammatory process involving dozens of
plasma proteins, ultimately leading to cell membrane disruption through the
membrane attack complex. Activation of the complement system is an important
part of the body's defensive immune response against pathogens such as
bacteria and viruses. In spite of its defensive function, inappropriate or
excessive complement activation can have pathological consequences. Multiple
studies published over the past 2 years have strongly linked the complement
system to the pathology of AMD.
    POT-4 is a synthetic peptide discovered by Professor John Lambris at the
University of Pennsylvania. It binds tightly to complement component C3,
preventing its participation in the complement activation cascade. As C3 is
the central component of all major complement activation pathways, its
inhibition effectively shuts down all downstream complement activation that
could otherwise lead to local inflammation, tissue damage and upregulation of
angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor.

    About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    AMD is the progressive deterioration of the critical central region of
the retina called the macula. This disorder leads to irreversible loss of
central vision. More than 25 million patients worldwide suffer from AMD,
including roughly one-quarter of those 70 years and older. Ten to fifteen
percent of patients with AMD develop a complication in which leaky blood
vessels grow into the retina. This form of the disease is referred to as
'neovascular' or 'wet' AMD, as opposed to 'atrophic' or 'dry' AMD when this
complication does not emerge. Pharmacological treatments of AMD are primarily
limited to drugs that inhibit blood vessel growth and leakage and are
therefore approved for use only in patients with wet AMD.

    About Potentia's AMD Program

    With the ultimate goal of making AMD a preventable disease, Potentia's
AMD program focuses on developing new therapies that target AMD early in the
disease process. Potentia's AMD pipeline includes POT-4 formulated to protect
patients from the disease for prolonged periods of time after each treatment.

    About Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

    Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (http://www.potentiapharma.com) is a
privately held, biotechnology company based in Louisville, KY. Together with
its corporate and academic partners, Potentia is developing new approaches to
the treatment of complement-related inflammatory diseases such as AMD.

    This press release contains "forward-looking statements" regarding the
potential therapeutic benefits and progress of Potentia's research and
development programs. These statements are hereby identified as
"forward-looking statements". Forward-looking statements include statements
regarding Potentia's expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding
the future and include statements containing forward-looking words such as
"anticipate," "believe," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may,"
"should," "will," and "would" or similar words. Such statements are based on
our management's current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties.
Actual results and performance could differ materially from those projected in
the forward looking statements as a result of many factors, including, without
limitation, uncertainties relating to drug discovery; formulation development;
clinical development processes; enrollment rates for patients in our clinical
trials; changes in relationships with strategic partners and dependence upon
strategic partners for the performance of certain activities under
collaborative agreements; the impact of competitive products and technological
changes; uncertainties relating to patent protection and uncertainties
relating to our ability to obtain funding. Potentia disclaims any intent or
obligation to update this press release or forward-looking statements
contained therein.

    Our logo, trademarks, and service marks are the property of Potentia
Pharmaceuticals, Inc. All other trade names, trademarks, or service marks are
property of their respective owners.

For further information:

For further information: Pascal Deschatelets of Potentia
Pharmaceuticals,  Inc., (502) 569-1053, pascal@potentiapharma.com, Web Site:

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