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Technology Ventures

Identification of C3 complement molecule at the site of injury to blood vessels in the retina of oxygen exposed newborn mice

Technology #2703

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John T. Flynn
Managed By
Ron Katz

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is the most common cause of acquired blindness in prematurely born babies. Infants with ROP are considered to be at higher risk for developing certain eye problems later in life, such as retinal detachment, myopia (nearsightedness), strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), and glaucoma. While the risk factors are well characterized, the underlying cause of the disorder is not well understood. Understanding the mechanism of ROP development may lead to preventative measures or curative treatment. The most effective proven treatments for ROP are laser therapy or cryotherapy. Both are performed only on infants with advanced ROP, stage III or later (out of a possible five stages). These treatments are considered invasive surgeries on the eye, and doctors do not know the long-term side effects of each. Therefore, there is a great need for alternative treatments that are less invasive than current measures.

Research tool and potential therapeutic for retinopathy of prematurity.

Oxygen injury (OIR) in newborn mice is the accepted animal model for studying ROP. This technology investigates the role of the complement activation system, particularly C3 complement protein, as the “first responder” to the injured retinal blood vessels of the newborn mice. Additionally, the complement C3 system is seen to induce apoptosis of the capillary bed, which initiates the cascade of events leading to retinal detachment, visual loss, and blindness.

Furthermore, a small non-peptide molecule receptor antagonist (RA) can inhibit the C3 receptor on the cell membrane. This effectively stops the oxygen damage that would have been caused by the C3 active forms. As the first report of both complement involvement in OIR and a molecule with the ability to prevent oxygen damage caused by this involvement, this technology opens up new avenues of research into the underlying cause of ROP, as well as potential new cures or alternative treatments.

Lead Inventor:

John T. Flynn, M.D.


  • Method for treating, preventing, or reducing oxygen damage in ROP
  • New Information regarding the underlying cause of ROP will lead to:
  • Better treatment protocols at Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) to prevent ROP
  • Identification of additional risk factor(s)
  • Development of drug therapy


  • This is an alternative treatment for ROP. Current treatments are invasive surgeries on the eye, with no information on the long-term effects.

Patent information:

Patent Pending (WO/2012/118833)

Licensing Status:

Available for licensing and sponsored research support

Tech Ventures Reference: IR 2703

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