Dr. Rajani Battu, Co-Founder, Eyestem Research, dedicated to Retinal Stem Cell Research
Dr. Rajani Battu is the Co-founder of Eyestem Research Pvt Ltd, a retinal stem cell company based in Bangalore.
Retinal dystrophy affects the visual system and is a chronic and progressive disorder. It is essential to recognize and diagnose visual impairments early in order to provide timely rehabilitation as well as gene therapy.
In today’s episode of TBCY we have the extreme honour of having the best ophthalmologist in Bangalore with us.
About Dr Rajani Battu
Dr Rajani battu is the Co-founder of Eyestem Research Private Limited. a company dedicated to retinal stem cell research. She is the founder of the not-for-profit Centre for Eye Genetics and Research. She is a senior consultant in Ophthalmology at Aster CMI Hospital in Bangalore. She was awarded a PhD from Maastricht University, the Netherlands for her work on “Inherited Retinal Diseases”.
What is Eyestem Research Pvt. Lt.?
Dr Rajani Battu when realised that there are so many genetic eye diseases with no treatment available, decided to do something in this space. This led to starting the company Eyestem Research in 2017.
“Our goal is to democratize cell therapy so as to make it more scalable and affordable.”
What motivated you to get into research?
Dr Rajani has been practising retina search for over two decades now and she says that there were some patients who they could not treat. She hoped that researches going elsewhere in the world would soon provide the solution for such patients but then after waiting several years, she decided to take the step and do something.
“We all reach a point in life where we question, what’s next?”
This was the point when Eyestem was born and she feels lucky to have found the right people at the right time which made the venture successful.
What are inherited retinal diseases and how bad is the problem in India and the world?
Dr Rajani explains that these are the diseases that run invariably within the families. There are two sets of conditions- one which affects the younger people and the other which affects the older generation called age-related macular degeneration causing loss of vision. The problem is quite large- around 1.5-2 million people are affected by macular degeneration in India.
How is retinal dystrophy diagnosed?
Any specialist can diagnose retinal dystrophy, says Dr Rajani. The problem comes in the final nuances. “Unfortunately many people with Retinitis pigmentosa are told they are going to lose sight very early on in life which may not be the case every time.” She also talks about the diagnosis which can identify the specific problem in the patient. As of now, there is a lot of research in terms of cell therapy and gene therapy but there’s no cure.
Dr Rajani Battu is the Co-founder of Eyestem Research Pvt Ltd, a retinal stem cell company based in Bangalore. She is a senior consultant in the department of Ophthalmology at Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore. She is also the Founder Medical Director of Centre for Eye Genetics and Research, Bangalore, a not-for-profit dedicated to patients with degenerative diseases of the retina. She is also an adjunct faculty at Institute of Bioinformatics & Applied Biotechnology, Bangalore.
Following her MBBS from Bangalore Medical College, she completed her Master’s from St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore. She underwent fellowship training in vitreo-retinal surgery at Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai and obtained her fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.
Rajani was awarded an International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) fellowship with Prof Anthony Moore of Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK in ‘Inherited retinal diseases’. This started her journey with genetic diseases of the eye. She has a PhD from Maastricht University, the Netherlands for her work on “Inherited Retinal Diseases”
Rajani has won multiple gold medals during her MBBS. She was awarded the AFER/ARVO visiting researcher award in 2009 in the US. She was awarded the best paper at the Karnataka Ophthalmic Society in 2014 and the “JM Pahwa’Award for the best paper at the national VRSI meeting in 2019. She has made several presentations at national and international conferences; she has multiple scientific publications to her credit.
With an aim to further research and treatment into degenerative conditions of the eye that have no treatment hitherto, along with Dr Jogin Desai, she started ‘Eyestem’ a company dedicated to retinal stem cell research. Eyestem is currently one of the foremost companies in the country in this field.