ISCO India will develop stem cell-based eyecare therapies and produce research products.

International Stem Cell and Insight Bioventures India (IBVI) have decided to establish a majority-owned Indian affiliate of ISCO (ISCO India). Initially laboratories will be set up in a clinical research facility (CRF) for stem cells and regenerative medicine in Hyderabad with the intent to relocate to MARG Science Park in Chennai.

IBVI is a biomedical business developer that reportedly facilitated the earliest cell therapy guidelines with the regulatory agencies in India. ISCO and IBVI have been working together to facilitate development and commercialization of the former’s stem-cell derived corneal tissue, CytoCor™, and retinal cells, CytoRet™, for treatment of blindness and severe vision impairment. Their agreement also covers cell systems for drug screening in India and setting up of a manufacturing base for ISCO’s Lifeline Cell Technology® cell culture media for commercialization throughout Asia.

ISCO expects that manufacturing of Lifeline media products and shipping of cell products from this central Indian base will be established to supply the growing network of Lifeline’s Asian distributors with high-quality products in a cost-efficient fashion. In parallel, ISCO India intends to explore development of Lifeline cell systems for drug screening in India.

“We have to manufacture our Lifeline media in Asia and ship those with our primary human cells from an Asian location in order to supply that fast-growing market with the highest possible quality products in a cost-efficient manner,” notes Brian Lundstrom, ISCO’s president.

On the therapeutic side, ISCO India will access eyecare researchers, patients, and regulatory agencies in the country to advance CytoCor and CytoRet cellular ophthalmology programs toward the clinic. Central to the operation will be continued collaboration with the ophthalmology scientists and clinicians at Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai, which began last spring. ISCO India will also collaborate with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, which was instrumental in the establishment of the CRF and will be a joint CRF tenant with ISCO India.

IBVI has also partnered with MARG Group, an infrastructure developer, to form Insight-MARG Biofund. “The combination of well-proven Indian research and clinical institutes, world-class facilities, and funding from the Insight-MARG Biofund provides ISCO with a unique way to advance our programs and businesses without additional U.S. capital investment or issuance of equity shares.”

ISCO is leveraging human parthenogenetic stem cells’ ability to form nonrejected, immune-matched therapeutic cells for therapeutic applications. CytoCor and CytoRet offer opportunities to treat diseases in the front and the back of the eye where surgery and traditional small molecule and protein therapeutics are not options. ISCO also markets and sells cell culture research products through its Lifeline affiliate and international distributors including those in Asia.

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