International Stem Cell (ICSO) is looking to team up with Insight Bioventures India (IBVI) to establish an India-based development and manufacturing facility for its research products and human stem cell therapeutics. The Indian affiliate will manufacture ISCO’s Lifeline Cell Technology® portfolio of research products, and also develop and manufacture the firm’s stem cell-based CytoCor™ human corneal tissue for the treatment of corneal vision impairment. Under terms of a letter of intent signed by ICSO and IBVI, the latter will lead the funding and establishment of ISCO’s affiliate in Hyderabad, including facilities and staff.
Announcement of the planned partnership comes just a couple of weeks after ICSO confirmed the establishment of a collaboration with India’s Sankara Nethralaya ophthalmology research center and hospital to develop CytoCor for corneal vision impairment.
IBVI is a biomedical business facilitator with a dedicated biofund for financing new businesses in India. The organization has established collaborations with India-based institutions including Sankara Nethralaya, the Indian government-funded Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, the All-India Institute for Medical Sciences, and the Indian Council for Medical Research. IBVI says it previously worked in collaboration with Sristi Biosciences to facilitate the early submissions and approvals of stem cell therapy guidelines in India.
“IBVI and their corporate, academic, and government network provide ISCO with an unparallel opportunity to tap into the rapidly growing research product market in India and develop CytoCor with a team of experienced scientists and clinicians in the country with most corneal blindness and visual impairment in the world,” comments Brian Lundstrom, ISCO president. “IBVI’s Biofund investors enable us to do so without ISCO capital investment or issuance of equity shares.”
“ISCO offers our investors as well as corporate and academic partners a unique combination of Lifeline marketed research products with near-term revenue potential in India, and CytoCor with potential to change standard of care for the widespread corneal blindness and vision impairment in India and the rest of Asia,” adds Jayaraman Packirisamy, Ph.D., executive director at IBVI. The collaboration will also provide “an opportunity to apply our well-educated work force and industrial-grade facilities to develop and manufacture these and other biomedical products cost efficiently in India.”
ISCO is focused on developing immune-matched human parthenogenetic stem cells (hpSCs) derived from unfertilized oocytes for the treatment of retinal degeneration, diabetes, liver and neurodegenerative diseases, spinal traumas, and other CNS injuries. The firm claims that unlike embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells, its hpSCs can be created in a homozygous form that would allow each line to be an effective immune match for thousands or millions of patients. The firm’s Lifeline Cell Technology subsidiary produces and markets specialized cells and growth media for therapeutic research.