This is as concise a summary on ICO as you'll find. Note the numbers below: 1.6 M patients. Growing diabetic population of 26M, estimated at 40M by 2015. 10% at risk for DME. Huge market for a $10,000 per annum drug. - TB

Some 8% of the U.S. population, or 25.8 million people, suffers from diabetes. Another 79 million are considered “pre-diabetic” and could cause the incidence of this chronic disease to mushroom to an estimated 40 million people by 2015. Diabetics battle numerous side effects of their condition, including greater susceptibility to blindness.
This is brought on by diabetic macular edema or DME – the swelling of the retina due to fluid leaking from blood vessels within the macula. The lifetime risk for diabetics to develop DME is approximately 10%. That means a very large number of people are at risk. An estimated 1.6 million people have already developed DME  –  presenting a very large market opportunity for clever scientists with an effective treatment.

Laser treatment has been the standard of care for DME for over 25 years and has been effective in 25% to 30% of patients.  In recent years, new drugs have been used alone or in conjunction with lasers. For example, theGenentech product ranibizumab, marketed under the name Lucentis, works against the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that is thought to be one of the culprits leading to DME. This approach has yielded much improved results with as many as half of patients experiencing improved vision.

To iCo Therapeutics, ICO-007 can do much better. VEGF is only one of several factors that lead to the proliferation of weak blood vessels in the macula.  Consequently, the anti-VEGF treatments are only partially successful in treating DME. Instead of focusing on one growth factor, ICO-007 interrupts a signaling process that could be the cause. Early test results show remarkable results, says iCo.
Its product has a cost advantage. The annual cost of ICO-007 is estimated to be $10,000, while the Lucentis costs approximately $24,000 per year.
A self-styled drug re-profiling company, iCo leaves expensive research work to others and focuses on developing compounds closer to commercialization.  Designed and discovered by ISIS Pharmaceuticals (ISIS), ICO-007 was licensed by iCo in 2005.  The company’s second drug candidate is ICO-008 or Bertilimumab, a compound also aimed at sight-threatening diseases that was originally developed by MedImmune, now a part of AstraZeneca (AZN).  Also, iCo is working on an oral delivery system for the antifungal Amphotericin B that could be used to treat life-threatening infectious diseases in developing countries where the usual intravenous infusion is not practical.

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