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Apellis Pharmaceuticals has a good news-bad news problem involving its experimental treatment for geographic atrophy — a chronic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in older people.

Two large and identically designed Phase 3 clinical trials produced confounding results: One study showed Apellis’ drug, injected into the eye, was a success — significantly slowing the progression of the disease compared to a sham injection. But the drug failed to show a benefit in the other study, albeit narrowly.


“When you run clinical trials, sometimes you get surprised,” Apellis CEO Cedric Francois said in an interview with STAT ahead of Thursday’s announcement.

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