Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) Buys MIT Spinoff to Transform Bladder Cancer Treatment

Dec 23, 2019 | Drug Discovery, Localized Bladder Cancer, MIT, TARIS Biomedical

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) Buys MIT Spinoff to Transform Bladder Cancer Treatment

Bladder cancer impact about 1.6 million globally with 550,000 new cases and 200,000 deaths annually. Europeans and North Americans face higher risks of developing bladder cancer. TARIS Biomedical LLC has been developing a first-in-class clinical stage platform to evaluate novel, locally-delivered therapeutics for patients with localized bladder cancer. This unmet need (and associated market) caught the attention of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) which acquired TARIS for an undisclosed amount. This R&D gets immediately integrated in Janssen’s R&D Oncology Therapeutic Area.

The Company

Founded in 2008 by MIT professor Michael Cima and Bob Langer, the company has raised $114.2 million since its inception, according to CrunchBase. In 2014 they sold off their clinical program (LiRIS® for the treatment of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome) to Allergan in a deal that included $67.5 million in cash upfront plus $295 million in development milestone payments and up to an aggregate of $225 million in commercial milestone payments. Prior to this transaction TARIS spun out assets such as their platform technology to a new company funded by TARIS shareholders.

The Drug Delivery Technology

Called the TAR-200, the lead candidate for muscle invasive bladder cancer, uses the proprietary TARIS System, which features a silicon-based drug delivery device supporting the continuous release of medication into the bladder. Its pipeline includes other products as well.

Integration into Janssen

TARIS will maintain their research presence in Lexington, MA, and become part of Janssen’s R&D Oncology Therapeutic Area. Janssen will keep the R&D team focused on the optimization of drug candidates collaborating with Janssen R&D scientists to advance the future clinical programs applying the TARIS technology, which was born at the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

Recent Studies

Recently, Duke Cancer Institute, Division of Urology researchers published the results of a study using the novel drug delivery system for bladder cancer. The authors included Brant InmanDominic Grimberg and A. Shah. The implantable drug delivery device evidenced potential for use in multiple bladder cancer setting. The Duke investigators reported promising data points from ongoing and completed Phase I clinical trials.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer impact about 1.6 million globally with 550,000 new cases and 200,000 deaths annually. Europe and North Americans face higher risks of developing bladder cancer. Localized bladder cancer is a global unmet need as reflected as high morbidity and limited improvements in treatment over the past two decades. Johnson & Johnson notes in its press release that bladder cancer represents the sixth most commonly occurring cancer in men and the 17th most commonly occurring cancer in women. 

A majority of cases are diagnosed in the early stages with up to 75% as non-muscle invasive bladder cancer and up to 30% as muscle invasive bladder cancer. Progression of this disease represents a devastating life-changing event that can result in removal of the bladder in patients fit for surgery. Following surgery and for a large proportion of patients who are unfit for such a procedure, the cancer often progresses into metastatic disease where the five-year survival rate is approximately 5%.

Source: PR Newswire

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