RetroSense Therapeutics Finalist For Angel Award

ANN ARBOR — RetroSense Therapeutics LLC, the Ann Arbor pharma startup, said it had been selected as a finalist for the Luis Villalobos Award, sponsored by the Angel Capital Association.

The winner will be announced at the 2015 ACA Summit in San Diego on April 15.

Named in memory of angel investor Luis Villalobos, the award recognizes startup innovation and ingenuity.

RetroSense Therapeutics’ lead product, called RST-001, is a gene therapy product designed to restore vision in patients suffering from blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa and advanced dry age-related macular degeneration.

In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Orphan Drug designation for RST-001 for the treatment of RP. There are currently no FDA approved drugs to improve or restore vision in patients with these retinal degenerative conditions.

“RetroSense Therapeutics represents a rare opportunity for angel investors to participate in the biotech space,” stated Ken Kousky, president of BlueWater Angels. “The company’s virtual business model has been capital efficient by leveraging extraordinary talent from around the country. RetroSense is on course to reach a major value inflection point in the clinic, driven by financing from angel investors. It’s exciting to see something as game-changing as vision restoration being fueled by angel investment.”

The RetroSense product offers optogenetics — the creation of light sensitivity to cells that were not previously or natively light sensitive. By applying optogenetics to retinas in which rod and cone photoreceptors have degenerated, RetroSense is conferring new light sensitivity to the retina, with the expectation of improved or restored vision.

The company’s approach to using optogenetics in vision restoration is based on research conducted at Wayne State University’s Kresge Eye Institute and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, as well as at the Massachusetts General Hospital. RetroSense has worldwide exclusive rights to the relevant intellectual property from both institutions.

In an angel-led round, RetroSense Therapeutics recently secured $6 million in a Series A financing with participation from across the United States and abroad.

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