Biotech company Eyestem is working in the area of cell and gene therapy to cure two hitherto incurable diseases of the eye, macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness for people above 50, and retinitis pigmentosa, a key genetic cause of blindness in kids.
Says Founder & Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jogin Desai, “Cell and gene therapies are aiming at curing incurable diseases worldwide and Eyestem is leading the charge for two incurable diseases of the eye in India. We are one of a handful of companies worldwide who have this kind of capability.”
The company was founded in late 2015 by people with a unique combination of business management, medical and cell therapy skills. While Dr. Desai is a doctor, he is also a veteran at nurturing businesses. The team includes Dr. Mahendra Rao, member of the board and Chairman of Scientific Board, who is internationally renowned for his research in stem cells and regenerative medicine, Dr. Dhruv Sareen, Co-founder & Science Officer, the founding director of the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Core at the Cedars-Sinai BOG-RMI, and Dr. Rajani Battu, Co-founder & Chief Medical Officer, who is the Chief of Ophthalmology at Aster CMI Hospital.
The company is looking to create allogeneic cell therapy which is accessible and affordable. Currently cell therapy products are being priced in the West at $250,000 and above which is not affordable for India. Based in Bengaluru at the Centre for Cellular And Molecular Platforms (C-Camp), it has collaborations ongoing with University of Portland and the Buck Institute in Novato, CA to carry out animal efficacy studies.
Eyestem has filed a patent for a unified protocol for creation for both its products. This protocol helps save time and cost during manufacturing runs and helps its vision for affordable, accessible therapy. Currently, its innovation is still in clinical trials but is expected to greatly benefit patients once in market. The same therapy could be extended to other sites/organs in the body. Using its science, process and business expertise, it aims to develop scalable cell replacement products to benefit patients worldwide.