BlueRock, Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics, and Opsis Therapeutics have formed an R&D alliance to develop cell therapies for ocular diseases.

Millie Nelson, Editor

May 21, 2021

2 Min Read
Bayer subsidiary Bluerock teams to develop cell therapies for eye diseases
Image: iStock/metamorworks

BlueRock Therapeutics, Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics, and Opsis Therapeutics have formed an R&D alliance to develop cell therapies for ocular diseases.

The collaboration will see the firms merge their different expertise to discover and develop off-the-shelf induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell therapies.

“This collaboration represents a step forward in building a portfolio of best-in-class cellular medicines with the potential to change the treatment paradigm and become standard of care for degenerative retinal diseases,” Emile Nuwaysir CEO at BlueRock told BioProcess Insider.


Image: iStock/metamorworks

There are three candidate programs, which focus on inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) and dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in pre-clinical development.

Under the terms of this agreement, allogeneic cell therapy developer and subsidiary of Bayer BlueRock Therapeutics has the option to license from both parties and will also be responsible for the development and commercialization of the products.

Opsis Therapeutics and Fujifilm Cellular Dynamic will receive payment of $30 million and up to $40 million as part of manufacturing funding, R&D, and the development of the three candidate programs.

Both firms have the potential to receive further payments based on specific development and commercial milestones, as well as a tiered system in royalty payments concerning the programs.

iPS manufacturing

“Manufacturing is one of the most critical aspects in advancing cell therapies,” Nuwaysir said. “Off-the-shelf cell therapies represent the next wave of innovation in the area, and they will make a huge impact. In this regard, investing in people development and capabilities will be crucial, not only for this collaboration but for cell therapies in general.”

To produce off-the shelf iPs cell therapies, a stable master cell bank is created, which is capable of unlimited expansion and differentiation into any cell type in the human body.

“We can then direct the differentiation of these universal cells into almost any cell type in the human body, recapitulating natural developmental processes.

“Through exclusive licenses from BlueRock’s scientific founders and other collaborators, we have access to the world’s leading methods for the creation of authentic cell types in the areas of neurology, cardiology, and immunology. BlueRock is in the process of advancing this technology to produce clinical-grade, authentic cell therapy product candidates with high potency, purity, and specificity at commercial scale.”

It is too early to place a timeline on the programs in the deal as they are still in pre-clinical development.

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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