SOURCE: Ora, Inc.

Ora, Inc.

June 29, 2011 08:00 ET

Dry Eye Patients Gather at the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation's National Dry Eye Patient Conference

ANDOVER, MA--(Marketwire - Jun 29, 2011) - Over 100 Dry Eye patients attended the National Dry Eye Patient Conference on Saturday, June 25, sponsored by the Sjögrens Syndrome Foundation and hosted at the Ora Clinical Research Center in Andover, MA. Top Dry Eye researchers including George Ousler, Dr. Michael Lemp, Dr. David Evans, Dr. John Pietrantonio, and Dr. Gail Torkildsen presented at the conference.

"Many Sjögren's patients who suffer from Dry Eye are frustrated by the current treatment options," said Steven Taylor, CEO of the Sjögrens Syndrome Foundation. "We are pleased to support Ora in their efforts to accelerate the clinical development of new Dry Eye therapies." Stuart Abelson, president and CEO of Ora, Inc., added, "Dry Eye Syndrome is a challenging disease to study due to environmental confounds, as well as the disease's multiple underlying etiologies and sub-groups. Sjögrens patients represent an important sub-group of Dry Eye patients, and we are pleased to provide the forum to both educate this patient group and welcome their involvement in our ongoing research."

Ora is running many of the industry's trials, and is currently recruiting patients for two Phase 3 clinical programs for exciting new therapies. Over the past 15 years, Ora has evaluated over ten thousand patients across 215 Dry Eye trials, looking at 30 investigational drugs including hormonal therapies, secretagogues, mucomimetics, anti-evaporatives, anti-inflammatories and nutritional supplements.

The full-day conference began with Michael A. Lemp, MD, Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Georgetown University who presented the Overview of Dry Eye with Potential Causes. Dr. Lemp provided an in-depth overview of the risk factors for Dry Eye, including age, gender, systematic autoimmune disease, hormonal changes, contact lens wear, refractive surgery, and graft v. host disease.

David Evans, OD, from Total Eye Care, PA from Memphis, TN, discussed the Management of Dry Eye and What is in the Aisle. Dr. Evans covered the extensive range of current treatments, from artificial tears to silicone plugs to systemic drugs. He also offered dietary advice to those with Dry Eye, explaining that "consuming large amounts of sugar and or artificial sweeteners has been linked to Dry Eye Syndrome. Good hydration is very important as well, so be sure to drink plenty of water."

Gail Torkildsen, MD of Andover Eye, Andover, MA, then explained how Dry Eye clinical trials are designed to assess both the safety and effectiveness of investigational Dry Eye medications or devices. "A prescription Dry Eye treatment must successfully pass through three phases of clinical trials before it can receive FDA approval," explained Dr. Torkildsen. "We rely heavily on patients who want to be part of this important research. By evaluating the therapeutic effects of these innovative treatments, we are able to make sure that they actually help to treat the disease." Dr. Torkildsen moderated a patient panel composed of Dry Eye patients who had participated in previous Dry Eye studies at the Ora Clinical Research Center.

After lunch, the conference reconvened with a presentation by John Pietrantonio, OD, Director of Eye Services, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Adjunct Clinical Faculty, New England College of Optometry, who talked about Contact Lens Wear for Dry Eye Patients. Dr. Pietrantonio said that "Dry Eye symptoms are reported by over 50% of contact lens wearers, as contacts can disrupt the delicate balance of the tear film and may increase tear evaporation." He added, "What most patients need to understand is that there has to be a compromise when wearing contact lenses, in order to avoid Dry Eye."

George Ousler, Vice President of Dry Eye Research at Ora Clinical Research, presented the latest information about Future Treatments in the Dry Eye Pipeline. "Restasis was approved by the FDA in 2002 and there are many products that are in Phase 2 or 3 and will hopefully win FDA approval in the near future," Mr. Ousler said. "EyeGate, Novagali, Resolvyx and SARcode all have therapies under development and are currently in Phase 3 of FDA approval. We truly appreciate the patients who participate in clinical trials because they are the ones that help drive these drugs further along in the development pipeline."

Over the next several weeks, video of the conference proceedings will be available online at www.dryeyesummit.org, the web-based center of Dry Eye knowledge sharing for patients, doctors, investors, regulators, and pharmaceutical industry executives.

About Dry Eye
Millions of Americans suffer from dry eye. There are two main causes: decreased secretion of tears by the lacrimal (tear-producing) glands and loss of tears due to excess evaporation. Both can lead to ocular surface discomfort, often described as feelings of dryness, burning, a sandy/gritty sensation, or itchiness. Visual fatigue, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision are also characteristic of dry eye. Dry eye is a hallmark symptom of Sjogren's syndrome. Dry Eye Syndrome is a difficult disease to study due to environmental confounds, as well as the disease's multiple underlying etiologies and sub-groups. Ora has developed its Dry Eye System as a multi-point approach to address these dry eye drug development challenges.

About Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation
Founded in 1983 the Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation (SSF) (www.sjogrens.org) provides patients with practical information and coping strategies that minimize the effects of Sjögren's syndrome. The Foundation's mission is to educate patients and their families; increase public and professional awareness and encourage research into new treatments and a cure for Sjögren's syndrome.

About Ora's Dry Eye Research
Ora's Dry Eye department consists of a dedicated team of 25 professionals, including both ophthalmologists and research PhDs with significant experience in studying Dry Eye Syndrome. Ora's track record of clinical trial success is based upon vetted endpoints and scales, the ability to tailor a clinical program to the unique mechanism of action to the drug being studied, and a dedicated statistical team to provide complete biometrics support. Ora maintains a vast dry eye subject database, characterized by deficiency and severity, across dedicated dry eye research centers in North America, Europe, and Japan.

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