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Eversight partnering with Emmecell biotech to advance ocular cell therapies

News
Article

Corneal endothelial cells from a single donor tissue could be amplified using Emmecell’s technology to restore vision for hundreds of patients via injectable cell therapy.

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/anttoniart)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/anttoniart)

Eversight and Emmecell unveiled a partnership to advance cell therapies for the treatment of eye disease through their shared commitment to curing blindness worldwide.

Eversight is a nonprofit organization with a mission to restore sight and prevent blindness through the healing power of donation, transplantation and research. Emmecell is a privately held, clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering the discovery and development of cell-based therapies for the treatment of eye diseases via its Magnetic Cell Delivery (MCD) nanoparticle platform.

According to an Eversight news release,1 the only way to currently restore sight to patients with advanced cases of corneal edema due to endothelial cell dysfunction is by cornea transplant. Emmecell’s minimally invasive cell therapy injects healthy corneal endothelial cells obtained from donor corneas into the eye to repopulate the patient’s diseased cornea with functioning endothelial cells, potentially eliminating the need for transplantation.

Diane Hollingsworth, president/CEO, Eversight, pointed out in the news release that a single donor cornea can restore vision to one recipient's eye through transplantation—a miraculous gift.

“If in the future we can provide healthy endothelial cells from a donor cornea for cell therapy, that donor has the potential to restore vision in many more patients, maximizing their gift far beyond a single cornea transplant,” she said in the release. “As stewards of the gift of sight, Eversight is proud to partner with Emmecell to advance this promising therapy.”

Corneal endothelial cells from a single donor tissue could be amplified using Emmecell’s technology to restore vision for hundreds of patients via injectable cell therapy. To date, cell therapies that replace or enhance damaged tissue often have been limited by the inability to localize treatment to the site of injury or disease. Using a proprietary magnetic cell delivery (MCD) nanoparticle platform, Emmecell solves the therapeutic challenges of delivery, retention and integration of healthy donor cells.1

Jeffrey L. Goldberg, MD, PhD, Emmecell co-founder and chairman of the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, noted in the news release that Emmecell’s mission is to bring innovative regenerative medicine out of the laboratory and into patient care.

“We are confident that Eversight’s eye banking expertise, global impact, commitment to research and surgeon education, and history of innovation and leadership in their field will help further harness the power of the Emmecell platform to cure blindness for more people worldwide,” he said.

According to the company, through the generosity of eye donors and their families, Eversight provided 8954 corneas for sight-restoring transplantation in 2023, of which 3525 were distributed in 29 countries outside the United States. While there is no wait to receive a cornea transplant in the US, it is estimated that there is just one cornea available per 70 patients who need a life-changing transplant globally.2 Alternative cell therapies made possible by Emmecell’s technology have the potential to transform more lives in developing countries without the need for local eye banking infrastructure or imported donor tissue.

Emmecell is conducting a minimally invasive, multicenter, phase 1B clinical trial (NCT04894110) for the treatment of corneal edema, which is enrolling US patients. If proven safe and effective, Emmecell’s EO2002 therapy could eliminate the need for corneal transplantation in thousands of people in the US annually and give the gift of sight to many more worldwide.1

Reference:
1. Mohr M. Eversight partners with Emmecell biotech to advance ocular cell therapies. Eversight. Published February 20, 2024. Accessed February 20, 2024. https://www.eversightvision.org/eversight-partners-with-emmecell-biotech-to-advance-ocular-cell-therapies/
2. Gain P, Jullienne R, He Z, et al. Global Survey of Corneal Transplantation and Eye Banking. JAMA Ophthalmology. 2016;134(2):167. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.4776
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