Bangalore-based cell-therapy startup Eyestem has raised Rs 51 crore (approx. $6.4 million) in a Series A funding round at a post-money valuation of $46.4 million.
Three pharma majors led the round –Biological E Limited (BE), Alkem, NATCO, and Anurag and Karan Bagaria, promoters of Kemwell Biopharma. Existing backers Endiya Partners and Kotak Private Equity also participated.
According to the company’s statement, the raised capital will help the startup to progress treatment for Dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (Dry AMD) to the clinic. It also plans to file for a first in human trial for the product within a year in consultation with CDSCO and US FDA.
Founded in 2016 by an experienced team of clinical research, regenerative medicine and ophthalmology experts, Eyestem said it is advised by a board and has built collaborations with other leaders in related scientific disciplines in India, the UK, Japan, and the United States.
The startup aims to develop a scalable cell therapy platform to treat incurable diseases and democratize access to these newer technologies globally.
Eyestem developed Eyecyte-RPE, a patented flagship product, an experimental treatment for Dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (Dry AMD), which replaces damaged retinal pigment epithelium cells and is designed to restore sight for patients in the 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 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,” said Dr Jogin Desai, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eyestem.
“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,” Jogin added.