International Stem Cell Corp. today announced its strategic alliance with The Automation Partnership (TAP) to automate and increase the production of stem cell-derived human corneal tissue to produce commercial volumes of the tissue for cornea transplants and to reduce the use of animals in product testing.

TAP provides advanced automation systems and services to improve productivity in life science research, development and production. TAP CEO David Newble said the partnership enforces its efforts to provide equipment for life science applications, and gives it an entrance to the biomedical market.

“TAP has successfully installed and supported over 160 automated cell culture systems worldwide and continues to design new and customize existing equipment for cell culture and other emerging life science applications. The opportunity to join forces with ISCO in the cornea tissue area will enable us to contribute solutions for clear biomedical needs while also creating new technology and knowhow that will be useful in other applications downstream,” Newble stated in the press release.

ISCO has filed for patents for its discoveries on the cell culture process for the synthesis of standardized, human, corneal tissue using stem cells. The company focuses on addressing the needs for corneal tissue for transplants and is working to raise awareness of its technology to a diverse demographic.

“Given the substantial unmet therapeutic and toxicology testing needs for human corneal tissue, ISCO has embarked on a focused effort to advance this technology with international investors, eye clinics, and development and commercialization partners. After reviewing a range of potential cell culture automation companies, we are very pleased that TAP has agreed to contribute their over twenty years of experience toward this goal,” Brian Lundstrom, ISCO’s president stated.

TAP and International Stem Cell’s focus correlate with global efforts to steer away from the use of live animals to test drugs, chemicals and consumer products. According to the press release, Europe’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) estimates that it needs to use 160,000 animals for eye safety testing alone simply to catch up with the back-log of insufficiently tested agents; and in the United States, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have initiated a five-year program to find new, non-animal technologies for toxicity testing of chemical compounds.

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