Tiburio Launches With $31 Million and Two Compounds From Ipsen Targeting Rare Endocrine Diseases

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New biotech Tiburio has surged onto the scene with $31 million in financing and two novel Phase II-ready assets licensed from Ipsen Pharma. The new company, spun out of orphan drug accelerator Cydan, is focused on rare endocrine diseases.

Abraham N. Ceesay has left his role as chief operating officer of scPharmaceuticals to take over as the new chief executive officer of Tiburio, which will be based in Cambridge, Mass. In an interview with BioSpace, Ceesay said he was drawn to the Tiburio because of its focus on developing therapies for unmet needs in neuroendocrine diseases.

“This was an opportunity to build a special company… that truly has a clinical stage pipeline,” Ceesay said.

The assets Tiburio secured from Ipsen are TBR-760, which is being developed for the treatment of an unmet need in non-functioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs) and TBR-065 for treatment for rare endocrine diseases that the company has not disclosed. Both compounds are dopamine-somatostatin chimeric molecules, which inhibit NFPA cell proliferation and have the potential to shrink or halt tumor growth.

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Ceesay noted that TBR-065, the second compound the company licensed, has a potentially wider scope than TBR-760. He said the company sees the compound for an unmet need in treating NFPAs, but has a “little more work to do to determine what the most appropriate target indication is for that.” Ceesay plans to initiate the first trial for TBR-760 in the second half of 2019. As the company moves forward with the two compounds, Tiburio will have two former Ipsen executives, Heather Halem and Michael Culler, the former head of endocrinology research, to help guide them through development.

NFPAs are non-metastatic tumors in the pituitary gland in the brain. Their development can result in life-altering and potentially life-threatening consequences for patients. Currently there are no approved therapies to treat these tumors and patients must undergo transsphenoidal surgery and/or radiation to remove or shrink the tumor.

Ceesay said the company was drawn to the two Ipsen compounds because of the unmet need in treating NFPAs. He said the current standard of treatment is an “aggressive and invasive neurosurgery” to remove the tumors. He said the fledgling company sees the potential to bring the first approved therapy to halt pituitary adenomas without the need for the surgery or radiation treatment.

With these therapies, as well as others that can be developed or acquired, Ceesay said there a real opportunity for innovation in the neuroendocrine space. He wants to establish Tiburio as a significant player in that arena. Ceesay said the company plans to be opportunistic about future opportunities in the space, but did not provide any details about what that could be.

As Tiburio moves forward, Ceesay said he intends to draw on his past experience from his days at Genzyme and build a strong relationship with clinical and patient advocacy groups in the neuroendocrine arena.

“In all rare diseases, the community… is critical as you think about establishing a company and developing a therapy. We are building our relationships with patient organizations to garner guidance we need along the way,” Ceesay said. “I hold those lessons tight. At the end of the day, what we do is truly about the patients.”

Tiburio launches with $31 million in a Series A financing round that will fund the companies’ lead compound, TBR-760, through human proof-of-concept for the treatment and further clinical assessment of TBR-065. The Series A was supported Cydan’s syndicate of leading life sciences investors, including New Enterprise Associates, Longitude Capital, Lundbeckfond Ventures, and Alexandria Venture Investments. As part of the licensing agreement, Ipsen will have a minority stake in Tiburio, and will also be eligible to receive development and commercial milestone payments and royalties on sales.

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