Affordable gene and cell therapies need of the hour: Dr Kapil Bharti

Affordable gene and cell therapies need of the hour: Dr Kapil Bharti


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  • Date: 22 Aug,2023

Eyestem Research, a pioneering cell therapy company with a vision to democratise access to cutting-edge technologies for the bottom 99% of the global population, hosted the inaugural Foresight 2023 summit, India’s first retinal cell and gene therapy conference. Held in Bengaluru on 17th and 18th August 2023, the Foresight 2023 summit was co-hosted by inStem (Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine) and C-CAMP (Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms).

India has over 1.5–2 M people suffering from incurable diseases such as dry age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. Foresight 2023 was intended to provide a spotlight on the diseases and enrich the Indian ecosystem by bringing in leaders in this field from India and abroad on a common platform.

“An honour to attend Foresight 2023,”  said Dr. David Gamm, Director, McPherson Eye Research Institute, University of Wisconsin, who was the plenary speaker at the Foresight 2023 summit. “It was my privilege to meet everyone and become familiar with the impressive science and medicine taking place in Bangalore, and across India. But even greater than the cutting-edge science currently being pursued here is the limitless potential for future global advancements originating from India.”

With an aim to maximise India’s potential as a go-to destination in the field of biotechnology, Foresight 2023 provided key stakeholders with a platform in the ecosystem to share their knowledge, insights, and research on retinal cell and gene therapy and build a collaborative and supportive community. The summit brought together renowned global experts and leaders so as to harness the power of the global collective in finding cures for some of the most pressing eye diseases plaguing humanity.

Limitless Potential for Future Global Advancements Originating from India: Dr David Gamm

We would love to explore collaborations in India to help create a philanthropic movement in funding incurable disease cures: Dr Chad Jackson 

India’s First Retinal Cell and Gene Therapy Summit, Foresight 2023, held in  Bengaluru 

On this occasion, Dr. Jogin Desai, CEO and Founder of Eyestem, said, “We were honoured to host Foresight 2023. Through collaboration and knowledge-sharing, we can drive innovation and create scalable platforms to address the unmet needs of patients globally. We hope that, by gathering together some brilliant minds under one single roof, this summit has helped in catalysing further discoveries and advancements in the treatment of retinal diseases.”

The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Kapil Bharti, Scientific Director, National Eye Institute – National Institutes of Health, while Prof. David Gamm,  Director, McPherson Eye Research Institute, University of Wisconsin, was the plenary speaker. While Dr. Bharti spoke about his journey of bringing the world’s first autologous RPE therapy into clinical trials, Dr. Gamm held the audience spellbound with the depth of his science.

Dr. Chad Jackson, Head of Pre-Clinical Translation at Foundation Fighting Blindness, shared the stunning progress achieved at FFB in helping to treat incurable blindness. He said: “The foundation has raised almost $900 M so far in helping find cures for these diseases, and we would love to explore collaborations in India to help create a philanthropic movement in funding these cures.”

Dr. Kapil Bharti said, “Currently available cell and gene therapies cost north of $ 150,000 per dose.  Eyestem’s mission is to make such therapies affordable to a large part of the world.  With a highly trained and effective team, they aim to reduce the overhead cost to make this ambition a reality. I am excited about their approach and will continue to guide them towards this mission as a member of their Scientific Advisory Board.”

At Foresight 2023, attendees had the opportunity to engage with industry veterans and gain insights into various crucial aspects of retinal diseases, cell-based therapeutics, gene editing, genetic modifications, product development in cell therapy, as well as disease modelling and drug screening. Other speakers were Dr. Jogin Desai, Founder and CEO, Eyestem; Dr. Lingam Gopal, Associate Professor, Sankara Nethralaya; Dr. Chad Jackson, Senior Director, Foundation Fighting Blindness; Dr. Xinyi Su, Acting Executive Director, Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, A-Star, and Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore; Dr. Rajarshi Pal, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, Eyestem Research; Dr. Renee Ryals, Assistant Professor, Casey Eye Institute, OHSU; Dr. Jayandharan Rao, Professor, IIT-Kanpur; Dr. Indumathi Mariappan, Senior Scientist, LV Prasad Eye Institute; Dr. Mahendra Rao, CEO, panCELLa; Prof. Ramaswamy Subramanian, Professor, Purdue University; Dr. Akash Gulyani, Assistant Professor, University of Hyderabad; Dr. Vinod Scaria, Senior Scientist, CSIR-IGIB; and Dr. Rajani Battu, Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer, Eyestem Research.

As pioneers of accessible healthcare solutions, Eyestem Research envisions a world where advanced therapies are available to all, irrespective of economic barriers. Foresight 2023 represented a pivotal step towards realising this vision by fostering partnerships and discussions that have the potential to change the landscape of retinal diseases.

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