LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A company born at the University of Louisville has raised $100 million from investors to develop a therapy, based on UofL research, that could improve the lives of kidney transplant recipients.
Talaris Therapeutics, Inc, formerly known as Regenerex LLC, is using technology developed at UofL to allow living donor kidney transplant recipients to stay off immunosuppression drugs for the rest of their lives. In a Phase 2 study, the cell therapy, called FCR001, allowed 70 percent of living donor kidney transplant patients to be durably weaned off all of their immunosuppression treatments.
The unique cell therapy technology is a result of pioneering research conducted at UofL by the team of Suzanne Ildstad. Ildstad has spent 21 years as a “Bucks for Brains” researcher at UofL. She founded Talaris around her research and is the company’s chief scientific officer.
“This financing moves us one step closer to helping organ transplant recipients no longer be dependent on immunosuppressive drugs, resulting in a greatly improved quality of life,” Ildstad said. “The support and research infrastructure at UofL have been invaluable in our journey to this important juncture.”
The technology developed by Ildstad’s team was patented at UofL and is exclusively licensed by Talaris from UofL’s Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation. Talaris plans to use the new funding to carry out a phase 3 clinical trial of FCR001. Longer term, the company plans to study whether FCR001 could be used for other organ transplants.
Talaris has about 25 employees in Louisville. Talaris’ research and cell processing facilities are based at UofL and the company also has a corporate office in Boston. As part of its licensing agreement with Talaris, the university will receive royalties from sales of any licensed products.
“This cutting-edge UofL research can have a significant impact on human health,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi. “This is a prime example of our ability to work with industry partners and investors to help turn innovative research into valuable new products.”