After Last Year’s $587.5 Million Deal With Allergan, TARIS Biomedical Relaunches With $32 Million Investment Round

October 27, 2015
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff Staff

Lexington, Mass.-based TARIS Biomedical LLC announced today that it was relaunching with a financing round worth $32 million. The round was led by Flagship Ventures and joined by return investor Polaris Venture Partners and a new investor, RA Capital Management.

TARIS was formed in 2009 with investments from Flagship, Flybridge Capital Partners and Polaris. It came out of the laboratories of Bob Langer and Michael Cima at MIT, and is built on an implantable device that is able to release a controlled amount of a drug into the bladder. It’s difficult to delivery drugs using pills or injections into the bladder, so the technology shows promise for treating bladder diseases.

In Aug. 2014, TARIS sold worldwide rights to its lead program, LiRIS, to Irvine, Calif.-based Allergan Inc. for $67.5 million up front and up to $295 million in developmental milestones and up to $225 million in commercial milestone payments.

The application, LiRIS, is designed to deliver a steady and continuous dose of lidocaine directly to the bladder in patients with interstitial cystitits/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS), in order to relieve pain.

After the sale to Allergan TARIS held onto some of its assets and intellectual property. The company chief executive officer, Purnanand Sarma, paid off investors and shifted into a new version of TARIS. It then brought in the most recent found of investments and will focus on other areas where its technology might be applicable.

The company has indicated it will look at bladder cancer, essentially using its technology to deliver an unidentified anti-cancer drug, and overactive bladder. In the case of the overactive bladder, which causes sudden urges to urinate and incontinence, they will test a drug that is already used to treat the disease, but in a much lower dose.

The company expects to have four programs in clinical trials in 2016, with data available by the end of the year. They may then sell off the application to another company, similar to what it did with Allergan. “We could do Allergan-like transactions again and again,” Sarma told Xconomy.

In addition to the investment funds, Christopher Cutie, will join the company as vice president of clinical development. Cutie has more than 10 years of experience as a urologic oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and services as a global medical advisor for Tokai Pharmaceuticals Inc.

TARIS also will add two more people to its board of directors. Kevin Finney, most recently vice president and head of corporate development at Allergan, and Mark Iwicki, most recently president and chief executive officer at Civitas Therapeutics, which was acquired by Acorda Therapeutics .

“The sale to Allergan of our clinical-stage treatment for interstitial cystitis in 2014 was an important validation of our revolutionary approach to treating bladder diseases,” said Sarma in a statement. “Since then we have been working hard to build a high value therapeutically-focused urology company on this foundation. This new funding will enable us to launch multiple clinical trials over the next 12 months and further expand our team.”

When Allergan acquired the technology in 2014, it was in Phase II trials. There are currently two ongoing trials with results expected sometime in 2017.

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