jCyte Clinical Trial

April 7, 2017

by Mark Dunning

I spoke recently with Paul Bresge, the CEO of jCyte. jCyte was co-founded by Henry Klassen and Jing Yang. Dr. Klassen was prominently mentioned in a recent National Geographic article on The Quest to Cure Blindness.

According to Paul, jCyte has “a special and personal interest in Usher Syndrome and…are considering embarking on a study specifically for Ushers.”

Right now jCyte is working on a treatment for the broad spectrum of Retinitis Pigmentosa. The treatment is not Usher specific. They have completed enrollment in a phase I clinical trial and while the treatment is not just for people with Usher syndrome, some of the patients enrolled have Usher syndrome.

The trial involves the use of retinal progenitor cells. The cells are delivered via intravitreal injection, a process that is similar to the delivery mechanism for the FDA approved drug Lucentis. It is an outpatient procedure and is relatively quick.

The injection implants retinal progenitor cells. These are not stem cells but are instead later stage cells that can develop into rod and cone cells. These cells act primarily to help rescue photoreceptor cells by releasing growth factors in the retina. Because they are diffused in the vitreous, they continue to release the factor over an extended period. And because they are delivered by a simple injection, they can actually be re-implanted if necessary.

Secondarily, because these cells can develop into rod and cone cells, they appear to have a regenerative mechanism. Therefore they have the potential to actually reverse the disease.

Even though these cells are developed from donor tissue and not pluripotent cells, they do not generate an immune response so they do not require an immunosuppressant. In other words, even though these cells come from donated tissue and not from the patient, they do not appear to be rejected by the patient.

They are enrolling for a phase II trial to test efficacy in treating RP and are looking for candidates. The study is on clinicaltrials.gov if you want more details. Some points on who would possibly be a candidate:

People with really good vision would not qualify.

They would prefer people in southern California area near the trial sites.

The trial does not exclude people from out of state. However, a candidate would have to be able to meet the visit criteria and there is no stipend to cover travel costs.

The trial will be conducted at two sites:

The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute at the University of California, Irvine

877-UC-STUDY (877-827-8839)


Retinal Vitreous Associates site in Beverly Hills, California

(310) 854-6201

This study's post on clinicaltrials.gov provides additional contact information:

Contact: Jesi Zavala, 714-509-2151 yzavala@uci.edu

United States, California

Gavin Herbert Eye Inst, Univ Cal Irvine (Not yet recruiting)

Irvine, California, United States, 92697

Contact: Jeff Grijalva, 714-456-7741 stemcell@uci.edu

Principal Investigator: Baruch Kuppermann, MD         

Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group (Recruiting)

Los Angeles, California, United States, 90074

Contact: Janet Kurokouchi, 310-289-2478, ext 123 jkurokouchi@laretina.com

Principal Investigator: David Boyer, MD         

To view this information in ASL, click this link or watch the 8-minute video below:


For more information, watch Dr. Klassen's recent presentation on Retinal Progenitor Cells for Treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa at the 2nd Annual Symposium of the CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinics Network:

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