From a single cornea to a hundred or more cell therapy transplant injections: is CorneaGen on course to end our dependence on donor tissue?
Phoebe Harkin | | Interview
It would be an understatement to call CorneaGen well-capitalized. Since it was founded three years ago, the Seattle-based company has raised $10 million in Series A funding, $37 million in Series B funding, and accessed a debt vehicle of $25 million more. Its product? Cornea cell therapy transplantation (CCTT), capable of turning a single donated cornea into 100 or more sight-restoring treatments. How? By culturing human endothelial cells and injecting them into the anterior chamber of a blind patient’s eye, eliminating the need for invasive corneal transplant surgery.
The injected cells have been shown to safely restore sight within a month, and all patients who have taken part in clinical trials to date report clear, healthy corneas – a full year post-procedure. CorneaGen is currently creating a subsidiary in Japan to drive the regulatory approval process and initiate commercialization. CEO Monty Montoya claims the treatment will have the same effect on the cornea sub-specialty that phaco had on cataract surgery. In his own words: “CCTT will change the practice of medicine for the better – for patients as well as surgeons.” Here, we speak to him to find out why.
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