Langer startup Taris tracks down $12.5M round for drug-device combo

Taris Biomedical has gone back to the venture well as the biotech startup launches a midstage study of its lead candidate against bladder pain. The Lexington, MA-based company found support for its latest financing from previous backers at Flybridge Capital Partners, Flagship Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners and Third Rock Ventures.

With the new capital brining its total VC raised to $49.5 million, Taris plans to fund a second Phase II study of a lidocaine-releasing system called Liris in patients with interstitial cystitis. Its drug-device combo emerged from the prolific labs of Michael Cima and Robert Langer, a potent pair of MIT investors who have partnered before on MicroCHIPS and other startup efforts.

Taris aims to apply its drug-delivery platform for a variety of bladder diseases, including bladder cancer and overactive bladder, among others. Yet the main proving ground for the technology lies in interstitial cystitis, a painful ailment that can trigger a need to urinate 25-60 times per day and has been associated with increased suicide rates.

In the ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled Phase II study, Taris wants to enroll 124 patients with the bladder pain and test the safety and effectiveness of Liris, which is designed to release the common anesthetic lidocaine for extended periods. The other programs in the company's pipeline are preclinical, meaning that Liris offers the company its best shot of nearing the market with the MIT delivery tech.

Taris backer Third Rock Ventures was in the news last month with a $516 million third fund to invest in more than a dozen more life sciences startups. The venture firm led Taris's $18.3 million Series B round two years ago, when it joined the VC syndicate at the company.

- here's the release

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