Langer's Taris relaunches to develop urologic drug-device combo with $32M

Taris' overactive bladder device--Courtesy of Taris

Taris Biomedical is pivoting to develop a drug-device combination to treat bladder cancer and overactive bladder. It's being backed by a stellar lineup of VCs, with lead investor Flagship Ventures as well as participation by existing investor Polaris Venture Partners and new investor RA Capital Management.

The relaunch comes after last year's sale of the company's lead asset, Phase II drug Liris to treat interstitial cystitis (bladder pain syndrome), to Allergan ($ACT) for up to $588 million.

"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 Taris President and CEO Purnanand 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."

The Taris device is designed to localize drug treatment to the bladder enabling continuous drug exposure over weeks or even months via a method similar to intrauterine, drug-releasing contraceptive devices. It's intended for the physician's office with instersion into the bladder via a catheter and eventual retrieval using a cytoscope. The device contains a solid drug core is inserted in a linear shape and then bent into a pretzel shape in the bladder.

A depiction of the device in the bladder--Courtesy of Taris

The startup was co-founded by drug delivery guru and MIT scientist Robert Langer along with his MIT colleague Michael Cima; both are on the company's board. Flagship and Polaris have been Taris investors since Taris' 2008 inception.

As part of the relaunch, Taris also added three new board members including former Allergan VP and head of corporate development Kevin Finney and former Civitas Therapeutics President and CEO Mark Iwicki. RA Capital's Rajeev Shah also joined as an observer. Taris also added Dr. Christopher Cutie as VP of clinical development; he was a urologic oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital for more than 10 years.

"Taris combines the experience and success of an established company with the agility and sense of mission of a startup," commented Flagship Managing Partner Ed Kania.

- here is the announcement