At jCyte, we are committed to developing an effective stem cell therapy for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and bringing it quickly to patients. The need is great. There are no medical treatments for RP.
To change that, Drs. Henry Klassen and Jing Yang have spent decades in the lab, investigating the mechanisms that drive RP and other retinal diseases. Their work led them to retinal progenitor cells (RPCs), a type of stem cell that can only become retinal cells.
Over time, Drs. Klassen and Yang learned to produce quality RPCs in large batches. In pre-clinical studies, they showed these cells could rescue, and even replace diseased retinal cells. The end result was jCell: an allogeneic human RPC suspension.
One of jCell’s main advantages is its simplicity. Patients receive a single intravitreal injection, which can be performed in an ophthalmologist’s office. No retinal detachment, or any other surgery, is required.
In 2012, Drs. Klassen and Yang founded jCyte. With major support from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and angel investors, we began clinical trials. Early results from our phase 1/2a study have shown the treatment is safe and does not trigger an immune response. We are now poised to begin a phase 2b trial, which is being supported by an $8.3 million CIRM grant, to study the therapy’s efficacy,
Though jCell has yet to be proven safe and effective in clinical trials, the RP community is excited by these early results. The therapy has received a coveted Orphan Drug designation from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and is eligible for the FDA’s new Regenerative Advanced Therapy designation.
We believe these early successes, and continuing support from CIRM and others, will rapidly drive jCell into the clinic, where it can help thousands of RP patients with few, if any, alternatives.