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Tech magazine ranks Wayne State spinoff as 37th smartest company in world

June 23, 2016

The MIT Technology Review has named Ann Arbor-based RetroSense Therapeutics LLC, a spinoff from Wayne State University in 2009, to its annual list of the 50 smartest companies in the world. It was the only company based in Michigan to make the list. The editors rank companies based on how their innovative technologies combine with a strong business model. They rated RetroSense, whose drug to treat patients with retinitis pigmentosa began human trials in March, at 37. RetroSense's drug, with the working name of RST-001, was first administered to a patient at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in Dallas. RST-001 has shown in animal trials that its gene-based therapy can confer light sensitivity to cells in the retina, where previously deterioration of rod and cone photoreceptors had caused blindness. The clinical study is based on the research of Zhuo-Hua Pan, a professor of ophthalmology and cell biology at Wayne State and scientific director of the Ligon Research Center of Vision at the Kresge Eye Institute, and Richard Masland of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.

"This is exciting recognition for RetroSense and all of its efforts in finding a way to restore sight," said Joan Dunbar, associate vice president for technology commercialization at Wayne State. "Without the efforts of Sean Ainsworth, RetroSense's CEO, the company would not be in patient clinical trial stages. It is Sean's critical efforts that are bringing this important research to life, and hopefully they will be successfully taking their clinical trials to the bedside in the near future." "This is another example of the strong innovation ecosystem here in Detroit and at Wayne State University," said Stephen Lanier, vice president for research at Wayne State. "It's very nice to see RetroSense being recognized for moving this technology forward, which has the potential for broad impact."