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Boston-based Alkeus Pharmaceuticals is about to test its drug for Stargardt disease, a rare, inherited form of vision loss, in a Phase 2 trial. But the “investor” supporting this next step is an unusual one: the Food and Drug Administration.

The agency recently announced Alkeus will receive $1.75 million over four years through its Orphan Products Clinical Trials Grants Program. Since the program began in 1983, it has funded more than 600 clinical trials and supported more than 60 marketed drugs. Eleven other companies got grants in the same round as Alkeus.

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