International Stem Cell Corp. (ISCO) specializes in the therapeutic applications of human parthenogenetic stem cells (hpSCs) and the development and commercialization of cell-based research and cosmetic products. The company was first to perfect the natural phenomenon of parthenogenesis, which utilizes unfertilized human eggs to create hpSCs. These stem cells, created in a particular form called HLA homozygous, can be immune-matched to millions of people regardless of sex or racial background, with minimal expectation of immune rejection after transplantation.
hpSCs are as pluripotent as embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and have significant therapeutic potential but their creation does not involve the destruction of a viable human embryo – thus sidestepping the controversy and ethical dilemmas associated with the use of human embryonic stem cells. Different from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSs), hpSCs do not involve manipulation of gene expression back to a less differentiated stage – a practice that may become a safety or regulatory obstacle in clinical applications.
A relatively small number of hpSC lines can offer the potential of producing the first true stem cell bank, UniStemCell, which ISCO intends to create as a means of serving populations across the globe. The company's scientists are currently focused on using hpSC to treat severe diseases of the eye, nervous system, and liver, for which cell therapy has been clinically proven but is limited due to the unavailability of safe human cells.
In addition to its therapeutic focus, ISCO also provides two revenue streams. Firstly through its subsidiary Lifeline Cell Technology, specialized cells and growth media for biological research around the world, and secondly its subsidiary Lifeline Skin Care, the company manufactures and sells anti-aging skincare products utilizing an extract from the hpSC and by leveraging the latest discoveries in the fields of stem cell biology, nanotechnology, and skin cream formulation technology.