AstraZeneca teams with Taris to research bladder cancer delivery device

Taris' bladder delivery platform attracted a research collaboration with AstraZeneca.--Courtesy of Taris

Taris Biomedical, with its bladder delivery platform, joined forces with biotech juggernaut AstraZeneca ($AZN) to develop new treatments for bladder cancer.

Taris's technology, developed at MIT by industry entrepreneur and scientist Robert Langer and his colleague Michael Cima, comprises a small, flexible tube with osmotic pump action to deliver drugs continuously to the bladder, as opposed to the most commonly used approach today, which fills the bladder for a short period of time.

"The system is a small silicone tube that is inserted through a catheter," Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer Chris Searcy explained to FierceDrugDelivery. "The tube is linear to get into the bladder, and once in there, its shape memory forms a three-dimensional structure we call a 'pretzel' to conform to the shape of the bladder."

"We then make use of an osmotic pump, allowing water to come in and minitablets to be released through small laser holes in the tube," Searcy continued. "The whole device can be deployed and removed in about 5 minutes."

Lexington, MA-based Taris has slated the technology for use in multiple bladder diseases, but in its collaboration with AstraZeneca, the research will zero in on bladder cancer. The larger company also gained an exclusive option to license the product that comes about from the research.

So far, the device has seen several early-stage clinical trials for interstitial cystitis, known as bladder pain syndrome, and ureteral stent symptoms, having been placed in about 150 patients. It has not yet been used to treat cancer in a clinical setting, Searcy said, but the hope is to begin helping cancer patients through the collaboration with AstraZeneca and ultimately turn out a licensing agreement.

"AstraZeneca is committed to the development of innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer that make a meaningful difference to the lives of cancer patients," said Susan Galbraith, head of AstraZeneca's Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit, in a statement. "We are excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with Taris because their novel technology has the potential to enable the delivery of the right drugs to the tumor tissue in the right concentration and over a prolonged period."

For AstraZeneca, plagued for years by R&D defeats, the early-stage investment in a Langer-developed technology marks another possible step forward into successful territory.

- here's the Taris release

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