StemCells, Inc. has announced that it has entered into a research collaboration with the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Casey Eye Institute to evaluate the Company’s proprietary HuCNS-SC ® product candidate (purified human neural stem cells) as a potential treatment for retinal degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
Published studies have shown that in a well established animal model of retinal degeneration, known as the Royal College of Surgeons Rat Model, human neural stem cells protect retinal function and thereby preserve vision.
Under the collaboration, the parties will evaluate engraftment and function of StemCells, Inc’s HuCNS-SC cells in the same rat model preparatory to planned clinical trials.
The research, which is expected to be concluded by year end, will be conducted at OHSU by Professors Raymond Lund, Ph.D., and Peter Francis, M.D., of the Casey Eye Institute, both of whom are leaders in cell-based research for retinal disorders.
“We are very excited to be working with these two prominent investigators in this developing field. The Casey Eye Institute has an excellent international reputation as well as a strong commitment to both basic research and clinical investigations,” said Stephen Huhn, M.D., F.A.C.S, F.A.A.P., Vice President and Head of the CNS Program of StemCells, Inc.
“The Company is actively exploring the utility of its neural stem cells for a wide range of human central nervous system disorders. Our HuCNS-SC cells are already in clinical testing for the brain, and we have announced plans to initiate a clinical trial for spinal cord injury later this year. This collaboration advances our mission to develop novel treatments for diseases of all three elements of the central nervous system – the brain, the spinal cord and the eye,” Huhn added.