AIVITA Biomedical Awarded NIH R01 Grant for Development of 3D-Transplantable ‘Retinas’

Award from the National Institute of Health supports novel method to restore visual acuity in the blind

IRVINE, Calif. September 29, 2016 – AIVITA Biomedical, a stem cell company with clinical and commercial programs, today announced that the National Eye Institute of the National Institute of Health (NIH) has awarded the Company a Research Project Grant (R01) for the development of stem cell-derived 3D-transplantable retinas to treat vision loss. AIVITA CEO Dr. Hans S. Keirstead will serve as principal investigator on the project, to be conducted in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine.

The project aims to address the loss of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and photoreceptors typically observed in patients with advanced degenerative eye disease, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. Several laboratories have recently demonstrated improved vision in animal models of advanced retinal disease through the transplantation of stem cell-derived optic vesicles and optic cup-like structures. AIVITA hopes to improve upon the number of retinal disorders and stages of disease that can be treated, using a superior method that involves the transplantation of a complete retinal organoid consisting of laminated retinal progenitor cells with RPE.

AIVITA will manufacture the 3D-retinal organoids and render the process both clinically and commercially compliant, and collaborators at the University of California at Irvine’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center will test the product for safety and efficacy in relevant models of retinal degeneration.

“This award, in addition to the previously announced grant from CIRM, is a testament to the advances we are making in the transplantation of stem cell-derived 3D structures to treat vision loss,” said Dr. Gabriel Nistor, CSO of AIVITA. “We are very proud to have achieved the major milestone of restoring visual acuity in models of advanced retinal degeneration, using a human stem cell population that is ethically procured, renewable and cost effective.

About AIVITA Biomedical

AIVITA Biomedical is advancing commercial and clinical-stage programs utilizing curative and regenerative medicines. Built upon expertise in stem cell growth and directed, high-purity differentiation, AIVITA Biomedical has engineered safe, efficient and economical manufacturing systems to support the development and commercialization of curative and regenerative medicines. For more information, visit

About the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center

One of the largest and most technologically advanced stem cell research facilities in the world, UCI’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center was established, in part, through a $10 million gift from Sue and Bill Gross. For more than 40 years, UCI scientists and research and graduate assistants have worked to unlock the potential of stem cells in treating and curing about 70 major diseases and disorders. Advances have led to the world’s first clinical trial of a human neural stem cell-based therapy for chronic spinal cord injury and the first FDA-approved clinical trial using human embryonic stem cells. For more information, visit