This startup aims to treat coronavirus using stem cell research

By Saheli Sen Gupta|2nd May 2020
Jogin Desai, Founder and CEO of Eyestem, explains how the startup can be instrumental in finding out which drugs can work against coronavirus.
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In its fourth week now, C-CAMP’s Covid Innovation Deployment Accelerator (C-CIDA) continues to select top startups across India innovating to fight the coronavirus pandemic. It has managed to select and showcase 30 startups in 30 days that are solving gaps and needs across screening, monitoring, and diagnostics.


Several of these are using stem cell research. One of them is Bengaluru-based cell therapy startup Eyestem. Founded by Jogin Desai, Rajani Battu, and Dhruv Sareen, the startup aims to develop scalable cell replacement therapies for the world.


In a conversation with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma, CEO Jogin Desai explains how Eyestem can be instrumental in finding out which drugs can work against coronavirus.






“Vaccine research is struggling as the virus is mutating quite a bit and any treatment is at least 12-18 months away,” says Jogin.


Hence, Eyestem believes that the easiest way forward is to repurpose existing drugs and has built an Anti-Covid screening (ACS) platform, which aims to provide the research community with a resource to determine the efficacy of a drug or a vaccine using the closest human host cell population.


Led by Rajarshi Pal, Chief Scientist of Eyestem, the startup had been working on lung cells for a couple of years now, publishing papers on the same. However, in the last three months, it pivoted to build this platform specifically to fight the coronavirus pandemic.


Now, it is ready to partner with other labs and companies to grow SARS-CoV-2 virus in these lung cells and start testing these drugs. 


“There is a massive amount of work that can be done at a fairly fast pace to get a drug, which can potentially help to treat COVID-19,” adds Jogin. 


He claims that the startup has already collaborated with two players, and is also expecting to start working with facilities in the US soon.

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