Lineage Cell Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel cell therapies for unmet medical needs, today announced that it has been awarded a new $670,621 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to advance its Vision Restoration Program, the Company’s proprietary and innovative program generating 3-dimensional human retinal tissue derived from pluripotent cells. Lineage’s Vision Restoration Program aims to address a wide range of severe retinal degenerative conditions including retinitis pigmentosa, advanced forms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and ocular trauma. The program and its award are distinct from OpRegen [®] , the Company’s clinical-stage cell therapy program which features the sub-retinal delivery of retinal pigment epithelium cells for the treatment of dry-AMD.
“Grants for ophthalmology research from the NIH are highly competitive and we believe this new award and funding of our Vision Restoration Program serves as external validation of the potential of our approach to restore retinal tissue and provides continued proof of progress which builds upon prior SBIR grant awards received to date,” stated Francois Binette, Ph.D., Sr. Vice President and Head of Global Development at Lineage Cell Therapeutics.
Early data from Lineage’s Vision Restoration Program were presented at the 2019 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meeting (ARVO 2019). The data presented provided evidence that retinal tissue produced in Lineage’s laboratory from pluripotent cell lines was able to engraft tumor-free in a rat model for severe retinal degeneration and showed evidence of functional improvement. This work was done in collaboration with the University of California Irvine (Magdalene J. Seiler, Ph.D., co-PI). In a separate presentation, Lineage demonstrated the ability to generate high quality retinal organoid tissue with a high number of maturing rod and cone photoreceptors from our highly characterized cGMP-grade pluripotent cell lines. Additional data from this project has been accepted for a podium presentation at the Society for Neuroscience’s 49 [th] Annual Scientific Meeting, Neuroscience 2019, taking place October 19-23, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.