International Stem Cell Corporation and Insight Bioventures India Structure Indian Affiliate to Develop Stem Cell-Based Eye Care Therapeutics for India and Produce Research Products for Asia
International Stem Cell Corporation (OTCBB: ISCO), www.internationalstemcell.com, and Insight Bioventures India Private Limited (IBVI), (www.insightbioventures.in) today announced that they have agreed on financial and structural terms for establishment of an Indian affiliate of ISCO (ISCO India). This is an important milestone in ISCO and IBVI's goal to facilitate development and commercialization of ISCO's stem-cell derived corneal tissue, CytoCor™, and retinal cells, CytoRet™, for treatment of blindness and severe vision impairment as well as cell systems for drug screening in India and establish a manufacturing base for ISCO's Lifeline Cell Technology® (Lifeline) brand of cell culture media for commercialization throughout Asia.
IBVI is an experienced biomedical business developer that facilitated the earliest cell therapy guidelines with the regulatory agencies in India and is well connected with Indian research and clinical centers, corporations and government. IBVI has now partnered with MARG Group (www.marggroup.com), one of India's fastest-growing infrastructure developers with interest in ports, airports, power plants, commercial spaces, special export zones and other integrated infrastructures, to form 'Insight-MARG Biofund' (Biofund). The MARG Group is the lead facilitator of Biofund, the largest of its nature in India so far and with great possibility for being complemented by Indian government grants.
ISCO is a public US biopharmaceutical company that has pioneered the creation of a new class of stem cells, 'human parthenogenetic stem cells', with broad therapeutic application potential and ability to form non-rejected, immune matched therapeutic cells for millions of people. Two ISCO therapeutic programs from this platform are CytoCor and CytoRet that offer first-in-class 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 in Asia. Lifeline is interested in leveraging its expertise to develop live human cell systems for drug screening in India.
G.R.K. Reddy, MARG Group's founder and chairman, says, 'MARG Group and IBVI have formed Biofund to leverage our resources and network of cutting-edge research and clinical institutes, corporate entities and government agencies in India. We believe ISCO India's unique combination of novel therapeutics to address large unmet medical needs and current and near-term research product businesses will be a first successful Biofund investment and set the stage for subsequent ventures.'
The agreed financial and structural terms will enable formation of ISCO India as a majority-owned Indian affiliate of ISCO, initially with laboratories in India's first clinical research facility (CRF) for stem cells and regenerative medicine in Hyderabad with the intent to relocate to India's first platinum-rated research center, MARG Science Park (www.margsciencepark.com), in Chennai. The park is a member of International Association of Sciences Parks (IASP) and has established networking and alliances with renowned institutes and organizations. The affiliate will be managed jointly by a team of experienced managers in India and ISCO executives.
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. On the therapeutic side, ISCO India will leverage the access to leading eye care researchers, patients and regulatory agencies in India and advance the CytoCor and CytoRet cellular ophthalmology programs towards the clinic and through safety-efficacy trials.
Central to the operation will be continued collaboration with the ophthalmology scientists and clinicians at Sankara Nethralaya (www.sankaranethralaya.org) in Chennai established last spring. ISCO India will also collaborate with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB, www.ccmb.res.in) in Hyderabad that was instrumental in the establishment of the CRF and will be a joint CRF tenant with ISCO India. Both institutions are respected worldwide for their research in cellular science and therapy.
According to Dr. Jayaraman Packirisamy, Executive Director of IBVI, 'As we launch Biofund, ISCO India will provide an opportunity to address large unmet medical needs while establishing an ecosystem for the well-educated work force, world-class research and development facilities and investors in India. By combining manufacturing of existing and development of new research products with well-defined therapeutic development, we create an attractive risk-reward profile that is rarely seen in our industry.'
Brian Lundstrom, ISCO's President, adds 'ISCO wishes to collaborate with leading research and clinical groups like CCMB and Sankara Nethralaya for our cellular ophthalmology programs. Moreover, 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. 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 US capital investment or issuance of equity shares.'
ABOUT INSIGHT BIOVENTURES INDIA
Insight Bioventures Private Limited (IBVI) is the Asian member of Insight Bioventures founded in 1997 to apply a multidimensional approach to value creation in the international life sciences community while placing client's interests first. IBVI operates through a team of experienced associates and partners from the pharmaceutical industry, academic research and the financial sector. The company maintains long-standing relationships with opinion leaders in different therapeutic areas that assist in evaluation and advancement of innovative product concepts and medical businesses. IBVI has made tissue engineering and cell therapy a major technology focus and works with recognized leaders in these areas, e.g. Sristi Biosciences and International Stem Cell Corporation. IBVI has partnered with strong Indian corporations and high net worth individuals to establish a dedicated 'Biofund' to finance the best novel technologies for Indian development and with potential to address large unmet medical needs in the Asian market. More information is available on IBVI's website: www.insightbioventures.in.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL STEM CELL CORPORATION (ISCO.OB)
International Stem Cell Corporation is a California-based biotechnology company focused on therapeutic and research products. ISCO's core technology, parthenogenesis, results in creation of pluripotent human stem cells from unfertilized oocytes (eggs). These proprietary cells avoid ethical issues associated with use or destruction of viable human embryos and, unlike most other major stem cell types, can be immune matched and be a source of therapeutic cells with minimal rejection after transplantation into hundreds of millions of individuals of differing racial groups. ISCO also produces and markets specialized cells and growth media for therapeutic research worldwide through its subsidiary, Lifeline Cell Technology, and is developing a line of cosmeceutical products via its subsidiary, Lifeline Skin Care. ISCO is advancing novel human stem cell-based therapies where cells have been proven to be efficacious but traditional small molecule and protein therapeutics have not. More information is available on ISCO's website.
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Key Words: Stem cells, parthenogenesis, cornea, retina, research products, biotechnology, India
International Stem Cell Corporation
Brian Lundstrom, President
Insight Bioventures India Private Limited
Dr. Jayaraman Packirisamy, Executive Director