RCT BioVentures NE Invests in Dartmouth Endometriosis Technology
Concord, MA – Jul 19, 2001
Boston venture development company, RCT BioVentures NE, is investing in the development of a novel laboratory test and therapeutic agent developed at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H. to diagnose and treat endometriosis in women.
Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease affecting more than five million reproductive-age women in the United States and Canada and millions more worldwide. Dartmouth microbiologist and immunologist Grant R. Yeaman is exploring promising options that could improve the outlook for these women.
The disease occurs when endometrial tissue that lines the uterus also grows in other sites throughout the pelvis or in the abdominal wall. This displaced tissue develops into growths or lesions that respond to the menstrual cycle the same way tissue of the uterine lining does: each month the tissue builds up, breaks down and sheds. Having no way to leave the body, the blood and tissue shed from endometrial growths causes internal bleeding and inflammation. This often leads to pain, infertility, adhesions, bowel problems and scarring.
Currently, laparoscopic examination through an incision made in the abdominal wall is the only way to diagnose the disease. Further surgery to remove the tissue or hysterectomy may follow the diagnosis. Since symptoms often continue, most women undergo several surgeries.
The only approved therapies for treating endometriosis are hormone-regulating drugs. These address the monthly inflammation of the uterine tissue, but not the root cause of the disease and its associated pain. Moreover, they are not successful in a significant proportion of patients.
As part of a research project funded by the Endometriosis Association in Milwaukee, Yeaman has discovered a common antigen recognized by autoantibodies in endometriosis patients. If this antigen-antibody interaction drives the disease or its symptoms, the opportunity exists to develop a noninvasive diagnostic assay and a nonhormonal therapeutic for endometriosis.
The RCT BioVentures NE investment in the Dartmouth technology initially supports continued research. It aims to help determine the exact nature and role of the suspected antigen and to evaluate it as a potential target for therapeutic intervention. The first stage of the work will be done at Dartmouth. Subsequent studies in an animal model of the disease will take place in collaboration with Kevin Osteen, director of the Endometriosis Association Research Program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
“Pioneering, early-stage technologies must be carefully nurtured and developed,” said RCT BioVentures NE president Debra Peattie. “With this investment we intend to further Grant Yeaman’s exciting new discoveries and to target development of an effective diagnostic and treatment of this devastating disease.”
Research Corporation Technologies (RCT), based in Tucson, Ariz., and Debra Peattie formed RCT BioVentures NE in 1999. RCT has filed patent applications for the technology that are pending in the United States and other countries.
Debra Peattie, President, RCT BioVentures NE LLC, (978) 371-7100, (978) 371-2371 fax
John Kavanagh, Director, Office of Grants and Contracts, Dartmouth College, (603) 646-2741, (603) 646-3670 fax
Grant R. Yeaman, Research Assistant Professor, Dartmouth Medical School, (603) 650-6329, (603) 650-6223 fax
Mary Lou Ballweg, President/Executive Director, Endometriosis Association, (414) 355-2200, (414) 355-6065 fax