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Swiss, South African investors lead funding in cell therapy startup Eyestem
Jogin Desai

Bengaluru-based cell therapy startup Eyestem Research Pvt. Ltd has raised funding from Swiss and South African investors  

The company said in a statement it will use the funding to carry out human clinical trials for understanding the major causes of incurable blindness. It did not disclose the amount it raised.

The investment was led by the Zurich-based Jacesa Investments, South Africa’s Church Street Trustees and Gillian Corken, the chief executive officer of Africa at Quintiles Transnational Corp, according to a statement. India-based Impres Health also participated in the funding round.

Eyestem co-founder and chief executive officer Jogin Desai said it would use the capital to manufacture its flagship product, Eyecyte-RPE. The product will be used for treating dry age-related molecular degeneration (Dry AMD), which affects nearly 170 million people around the world.

“It is encouraging to know that experienced and senior healthcare professionals from around the world have faith in our vision and have invested in us,” Desai said.

The Bengaluru-based cell therapy firm says it is aiming to bring the product to human clinical trials within 18 months.

Separately, Jacesa’s Greg Hoogland said Eyestem has the potential to create a scalable cell therapy platform that could be an asset for the industry. Church Street’s Oppel Greeff and Gillian Corken added that their investment in Eyestem was based on the strength of its management and global ambitions.

Cell therapy is the process of transplanting cells grown in a laboratory to replace or repair damaged ones inside a human body.

Deals in the medical-technology space

There have been quite a few investments in the medical-technology space in recent years. The startups are seeking to leverage new technologies and capital to solve age-old problems, and also eases the delivery and application of services across the value chain.

In April, SigTuple Technologies Pvt. Ltd. raised $116 million (around Rs 111 crore) in a Series C funding round led by Trusted Insight. Other investors include Accel, Chiratae Ventures, Pi Ventures, Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal and venture debt firm Trifecta Capital. SigTuple engages in the development of medical solutions for high-volume screening tests that require manual analysis of visual medical data.

In February, breast cancer screening startup Niramai Health Analytix Pvt. Ltd raised $6 million in a Series A round of funding led by Tokyo-headquartered management consulting firm Dream Incubator. 

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