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J&J taps TARIS Biomedical for novel bladder cancer technology

Takes a bigger stake in the bladder cancer market

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has made a bid for US-based biotech TARIS Biomedical for an undisclosed sum as it takes a bigger stake in bladder cancer. 

TARIS Biomedical specialises in the development of a novel drug delivery technology for the treatment of bladder diseases, including cancer.

Its lead candidate – TAR-200 – uses this novel system, which features a silicon-based drug delivery device that allows for the continuous release of medication into the bladder.

“The TARIS technology provides a first-in-class clinical stage platform to evaluate novel, locally-delivered therapeutics for patients with localised bladder cancer,” said Peter Lebowitz, global therapeutic area head, oncology, Janssen Research & Development.

“Together with the TARIS team, we look forward to advancing complete regimens to push towards early interception of bladder cancer with the goal of improving outcomes for patients and, ultimately, delivering cures,” he added.

TARIS will remain in Massachusetts, US and become a part of Janssen (J&J’s pharmaceutical division) R&D’s Oncology Therapeutic Area.

The TARIS team will focus on the optimisation of drug candidates, while working with Janssen scientists to advance and deliver future clinical programmes using the novel technology.

J&J has a strong presence in the bladder cancer area, with its targeted bladder cancer drug Balversa (erdafitinib) gaining approval in the US earlier this year.

This precision medicine targets bladder cancer patients who carry fibroblast growth factor (FGFR) alterations. These genetic mutations are present in approximately one in five patients with recurrent and refractory bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer affects almost 550,000 people a year, with a significant portion of those cases ending with fatality. Although it affects a large proportion of people, bladder cancer has proved to be remarkably resistant to new drug therapies.

Despite the emergence of immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors – which has transformed the prospects for some bladder cancer patients over the past few years – the majority of patients do not respond to this type of treatment.

With Balversa, a 99-patient study demonstrated a 40% overall response rate, 3% complete responses and 37% partial responses, along with a median progression-free survival of 5.5 months and median overall survival of 13.8 months.

However, J&J is not alone in the bladder cancer market. Seattle Genetics and Astellas claimed approval in the US for Padcev (enfortumab vedotin) last week, as a later-line therapy for bladder cancer.

Merck’s blockbuster checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is also approved for first- and second-line treatment of urothelial carcinoma, the most common form of bladder cancer. Most other checkpoint inhibitors also have at least one of those indications on the label, including Roche’s Tecentriq (atezolizumab) and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab).

Article by
Lucy Parsons

23rd December 2019

From: Sales

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