The decision to invest in a venture is possibly one of the most fascinating decision making processes in business. For those like me, it is the mix of discovering great people with matching visions and partnering with them in their journey towards making great companies. What comes first is a sense of joy, pride, and confidence when you meet a team that is passionate about what they are pursuing. Their belief, their rationale, their expertise are what capture my attention, and for me, that has been the starting point, in my journey as an investor. With Eyestem it started when I met Dr. Jogin Desai. I was immediately drawn towards his own passion, depth of medical knowledge, understanding of clinical trials, and his core team of Ophthalmologists, scientists all with strong work experience in the area of cell therapy.
As a medical professional and a long-time investor in Healthcare, my interest in Cell therapy has been there for a very long time. This sector has never had a clear winner. All over the world, the cell therapy efforts often end up with solutions that are unviable or too expensive for use. I also believe that the time for cell therapy solutions has arrived and the starting point to this promising area of science has to be the eye, the retina, to be specific. The location of the retina, the way it is shielded, unlike most organs gives the unique advantage of cell therapy to have a chance to work here. In most other organs, the new cells are almost immediately destroyed upon being introduced. The retina also has the unique advantage of being located as an external organ, hence post the treatment, regular observations can be done easily either by fundus imaging or optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging.
Eyestem intends to disrupt the global cell therapy ecosystem and set a new benchmark for quality and affordability in this sector. Eyecyte-RPE, their flagship solutions to treat incurable age related macular degeneration has excellent efficacy results and will be in 'First in Man' (FIM) trials in 2021. Their body of expert advisors, papers published, and development partnership with Dr. Trevor McGill, a world-renowned expert on pre-clinical AMD studies at the Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, only added to my confidence and excitement about their vision and their ability to steer the course.
Current cell and gene therapy products are estimated to cost >$250k per injection. Also, very few forms of cell therapy solutions are permitted to be used for treatment across the globe. This is a difficult and unsustainable gridlock. EyeStem’s vision is to democratize access to cell therapy and provide benefits to a larger section of humanity. This, especially in a country like India with a large part of the population being of limited financial means, would be a true beacon of hope for the future.
Over my interactions with the Eyestem team, as I gathered more information about their ambition, their deep research, and business principles, I was convinced about Endiya’s interest in backing their journey. At Endiya we have always been a launchpad for companies in Technology and Healthcare, which challenge the normal and offer solutions to problems of consumers and humankind at large. Eyestem has been doing that with grit and passion and I am sure that they would succeed in the novel mission they have undertaken.
We at Endiya, are glad to be a part of their momentous journey and to be in a position to offer them any and all help.