Lyra bags $29.5M to push chronic sinusitis drug into phase 2

Current treatments for chronic rhinosinusitis aren’t very effective because they don’t reach the cause of the disease: the inflammation in the paranasal sinuses. (Public Domain Pictures)

Lyra Therapeutics is working to improve treatments for ear, nose and throat (ENT) diseases. To that end, the company has reeled in a $29.5 million series B, which will move its lead program, a treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis, into phase 2. The asset, LYR-210, is based on its transmucosal drug delivery platform. 

Chronic rhinosinusitis is a condition in which the sinuses become inflamed and swollen for 12 weeks or longer: “Imagine having the worst cold of your life, but you have it chronically, every day,” said Lyra CEO Maria Palasis, Ph.D. 

By the CDC’s count, chronic rhinosinusitis affects nearly 27 million people in the U.S.—11% of the population—and can cause a litany of symptoms, from nasal discharge to facial pain and pressure and loss of the sense of smell. The first line of treatment includes nasal irrigation and steroids delivered as nasal sprays. However, these sprays aren’t very effective because they don’t reach the cause of the disease: inflammation in the paranasal sinuses. Patients who fail on these treatments are often recommended surgery, but, Palasis points out, these procedures aren’t curative. 

“Surgery doesn’t target the disease biology,” she said. Mostly, it’s done to remove blockage, helping the sinuses drain and improving access for spray medication. 

Lyra is working on a drug delivery platform that surmounts multiple problems with current rhinosinusitis treatments, namely lack of access to the sinuses, a quick turnover of mucus—which limits the time a drug can spend in the patient’s body—and poor patient compliance. 

LYR-210 is a miniaturized, bioresorbable device that is implanted deep in the nasal passages, where it delivers an anti-inflammatory steroid for up to six months. It can be inserted during a routine visit, during which the doctor will numb the area and deliver the drug depot using a syringe-like instrument. While the depot is made of bioresorbable polymers, it would remain in the patient’s body longer than the six-month medication period. So once the depot is empty, a doctor would then remove it before inserting a new one, Palasis said. 

“With this funding and the progress with LYR-210 in the clinic, we believe Lyra is well positioned to achieve our goal to transform the ENT treatment paradigm by providing effective front-line solutions for physicians and new treatment options for their patients. We are excited to rapidly move forward with our Phase 2 clinical plans for LYR-210 for chronic rhinosinusitis, a disease for which millions of patients seek new treatment options and alternatives to surgeries,” Palasis said in a statement. Lyra draws its series B from Perceptive Advisors, RA Capital Management, ArrowMark Partners, Soleus Capital, Polaris Venture Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners and Intersouth Partners. 

The company tested LYR-210 in patients who had failed medical management and who were deemed candidates for surgery, Palasis said. Data from that phase 1 study will be presented in October at the annual meeting of the American Rhinologic Society. 

While Palasis couldn’t say which other ENT indications the company is interested in, she said there are “certainly other indications both in the sinuses and in the ear” that would be good candidates for Lyra’s system. The company counts about 20 employees and expects to double that in the next 12 to 18 months.

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