Eyestem, a Bengaluru-based cell therapy company, has raised $6.4 million (Rs 51 crore) 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 this round, valuing Eyestem at $46.4 million (Rs 371 crore) post-money.
"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 around the world," said Dr. Jogin Desai, Founder and CEO of Eyestem. The backing of major Indian pharmaceutical companies who share our vision validates our strategy of developing affordable innovation for patients all over the world. Following this funding, we will continue to focus on solidifying our cell therapy platform and advancing our flagship product for Dry AMD through international standard early clinical trials."
Eyecyte-RPE, the company’s patented flagship product, 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 designed to restore sight for patients in early stages of Macular Degeneration or arrest loss of vision for those in later stages. The product is allogenic, administered by a surgical procedure and is patented in India and abroad. The company intends to file for a first in human trial for the product within a year in consultation with CDSCO and US FDA.
"We are very happy to be associated with Eyestem for its innovative work that services unmet needs of patients that have a high impact on quality of life," said Rajeev Nannapaneni, CEO of NATCO Pharma Limited.
"Endiya Partners is delighted to back such strong, globally competitive innovative startups and participate in the current funding round," said Dr Ramesh Byrapaneni, Managing Partner of Endiya Partners. The addition of leading pharma and biotech investors to our capitalization table is a great validation of the world-class science that Eyestem is pursuing, which has the potential to change millions of lives around the world."
Eyestem was founded in 2016 by an experienced team of clinical research, regenerative medicine, and ophthalmology experts. It is advised by a board of directors and has established collaborations with other leaders in related scientific disciplines in India, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States. Long-term goals include developing a scalable cell therapy platform to treat incurable diseases and democratizing global access to these newer technologies.