Eyestem, a Bengaluru-based cell therapy startup, has raised $6.4 million in a Series A round led by three pharma majors, Biological E. Limited (BE), Alkem, NATCO, and Kemwell Biopharma promoters Anurag and Karan Bagaria.
Endiya Partners and Kotak Private Equity, both existing investors, also participated in the round, valuing Eyestem at $46.4 million post-money.
Dr. Jogin Desai, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eyestem, said, “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.”
“The support of major Indian pharma companies who share our vision endorses our strategy of developing affordable innovation for patients worldwide. Post this funding, and 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 added.
The startup aims to provide vision to patients suffering from rare eye conditions
The company’s patented flagship product, Eyecyte-RPE, is an experimental treatment for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Dry AMD), and the company has other products in the pipeline for the treatment of incurable diseases affecting humanity.
EyeCyte-RPE replaces damaged retinal pigment epithelium cells and is intended to restore sight in patients in the early stages of Macular Degeneration or to halt vision loss in those in the later stages. The product is allogenic, is administered surgically, and is patented in India and abroad.
In consultation with CDSCO and the US FDA, the company plans to file for a first-in-human trial of the product within a year.
Rajeev Nannapaneni, CEO of NATCO Pharma Limited, said, “We are delighted to be associated with Eyestem for their innovative work that services unmet needs of patients that have a high impact on quality of life.”
Eyestem, founded in 2016 by an experienced team of clinical research, regenerative medicine, and ophthalmology experts, has formed partnerships with other leaders in related scientific disciplines in India, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States.
The startup’s long-term goal is to create a scalable cell therapy platform to treat incurable diseases and democratize global access to these newer technologies.
Dr. Ramesh Byrapaneni, the Managing Partner of Endiya Partners, said, “Endiya partners are delighted to back the startup and participate in the current funding round. Adding leading pharma and biotech investors to our cap table is a great validation of the world-class science Eyestem is pursuing, which can change millions of lives globally.”