| For Immediate Release
October 18, 2001
Johns Hopkins APL Licenses International Rights to Retinal Treatment Method to Novadaq Technologies
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Maryland, has licensed the international rights to a patented method for diagnosing and treating age-related macular degeneration — a leading cause of vision loss — to Novadaq Technologies Inc.
The multiyear licensing agreement enables Toronto-based Novadaq to develop a process and technology known as dye-enhanced photocoagulation — invented by a former APL researcher — and sell the resulting product in markets outside of the United States. Negotiated by APL's Office of Technology Transfer , the agreement also forges a strategic alliance in which Novadaq can work with the Lab's Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in Medicine to develop innovative medical technologies.
"This alliance and agreement with Novadaq presents a tremendous opportunity for the Applied Physics Laboratory to extend its capabilities to additional critical areas of biomedical research, starting with this technology addressing a very serious retinal disease," says Steve Yanek, the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in Medicine's interim director.
Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, affects about 15 million people in the U.S., millions more around the world, and is the leading cause of vision loss in people over age 60. Dye-enhanced photocoagulation addresses the "wet" form of AMD, which occurs when tiny blood vessels begin to grow under the central part of the retina, called the fovea. These new, abnormal vessels can leak fluid and distort a person's central vision.
Currently, doctors can treat a small number of early wet AMD cases with laser surgery called photocoagulation. After using a special dye and optical camera to find the leaking vessels — a test known as fluorescein angiography — a doctor blasts the area with a high-energy laser. But the procedure also damages the tissue around the target vessels, so doctors can only treat leaks that develop away from the central part of the macula. Another drawback: The laser targets only the capillaries closest to the retina's surface — not the "source" vessels — so there's a good chance the capillaries could simply grow back.
APL's dye-enhanced photocoagulation aims to do what today's technology can't, by combining diagnostic and treatment equipment in one device designed to help doctors find and permanently seal off these abnormal vessels. A doctor injects a small amount of fluorescent indocyanine green (ICG) dye into the patient's arm. A laser scans the back of the eye beneath the retina, causing the circulating dye to fluoresce, allowing the doctor to identify the source of the blood feeding the leaking vessels on a high-resolution computer screen. The doctor then focuses a second laser directly on the feeder vessel and gives the patient a second injection of concentrated ICG. The treatment laser is fired at the precise moment the dye passes through the feeder vessel, destroying it without harming the overlying retinal area.
"This agreement with Johns Hopkins provides an outstanding opportunity for Novadaq to expand our product offerings within our area of expertise," says Rick Mangat, president of Novadaq Technologies. "This technology is similar to our current product being developed for coronary artery imaging in that it makes use of the unique properties of indocyanine green, so it greatly complements and strengthens our core competencies. Also, the expertise we can now tap into at APL will significantly enhance our research and development capabilities."
Novadaq Technologies — a privately held company founded in April 2000 — is a spin-off from the Canadian National Research Council's Institute for Biodiagnostics in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Novadaq's corporate offices are in Toronto, with research and development offices in Winnipeg and global sales and marketing offices in Vero Beach, Florida. For more information, call Mary Kay Baggs at (561) 388-6074.
The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.