Leading Indian drug makers, including Biological E, Alkem Laboratories and Natco Pharma have invested in the Bengaluru and Delaware-based cell therapy startup Eyestem Research. The research firm, which is developing a cell-based experimental treatment for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Dry AMD), also received fresh funding from the promoters of Kemwell Biopharma –Anurag and Karan Bagaria, and the existing investors Endiya Partners and Kotak Private Equity through its Series A round .
In the fresh round, Eyestem raised $6.4 million (Rs 51 crore) at a valuation of $46.4 million (INR 371 crore).
Commenting about the latest fund raising, Dr Jogin Desai, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eyestem said that the support of major Indian pharma companies who share Eyestem’s vision endorses its strategy of developing affordable innovation for patients worldwide.
“We started Eyestem with the sole purpose of being able to create cell therapy products at scale for diseases that devastate a large number of people in India and the world. Post this funding, we will remain focussed on solidifying our cell therapy platform and moving our flagship product for Dry AMD through early clinical trials of an international standard,” he said.
Besides EyeCyte-RPE, the company’s patented flagship product for Dry AMD, Eyestem also has other products in the pipeline for the treatment of incurable diseases affecting humanity. EyeCyte-RPE replaces damaged retinal pigment epithelium cells and is designed to restore sight for patients in early stages of Macular Degeneration or arrest loss of vision for those in later stages. The company intends to file for a first in human trial for the product within a year in consultation with CDSCO and US FDA.
Natco Pharma CEO Rajeev Nannapaneni said that his company is happy to be associated with Eyestem for their innovative work that services unmet needs of patients that have high impact for quality of life.
Founded in 2016, by an experienced team of clinical research, regenerative medicine and ophthalmology experts, Eyestem has already built collaborations with other leaders in related scientific disciplines in India, UK, Japan and the US. Its long-term plan is to develop a scalable cell therapy platform to treat incurable diseases and increase access to these newer technologies to the needy globally.