Eyestem, a cell therapy company, has raised $6.4 million in its Series A funding round from Biological E Limited (BE), Alkem, NATCO, and Anurag and Karan Bagaria, promoters of Kemwell Biopharma.
The round also saw participation from existing investors Endiya Partners and Kotak Private Equity.
The Bengaluru-based Eyestem was founded in 2016 by Dr. Jogin Desai, Dr. Rajani Battu, Dr. Rajarshi Pal and Dr. Dhruv Sareen, It aims to develop a cell therapy platform to treat incurable diseases and to democratize access to new technologies globally.
The startup has a patented product called Eyecyte-RPE, an experimental treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration.
“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, 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”, said, Dr Jogin Desai, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eyestem.
The startup is looking to launch a range of allied products to treat incurable diseases.
In addition, the startup said it has formed associations for scientific innovations in India, the UK and the US and has received grants from the Department of Biotechnology.
Rajeev Nannapaneni, CEO, NATCO Pharma Limited, said, “We are very happy to be associated with Eyestem for its innovative work that services unmet needs of patients that have high impact for quality of life”.
Dr Ramesh Byrapaneni, Managing Partner of Endiya Partners said, “Endiya partners is delighted to back such strong, globally competitive innovative startups and participate in the current funding round. The addition of leading pharma and biotech investors on our cap table is a great validation of the world class science that Eyestem is pursuing, which can change millions of lives globally.”
In 2019, Eyestem had raised undisclosed amount in funding from Swiss and South African investors.
Current cell and gene therapy products are estimated to cost >$250k per injection. This is unsustainable. Their vision is to democratize access to cell therapy and provide benefits to a larger section of humanity.
They intend to disrupt the global cell therapy ecosystem and set a new benchmark for quality and affordability in this sector. Eyecyte-RPE-our flagship project to treat incurable macular degeneration has excellent efficacy results and will be in FIM trials in 2021.