Tourmaline Agrees to Reverse Merger with Talaris, Arranges $75 Million Private Placement
June 22, 2023
Rare Daily Staff
Late-stage clinical biotechnology company Tourmaline Bio agreed to a reverse merger with the public company Talaris Therapeutics in all-stock transaction and has also entered into an agreement with a syndicate of new and existing institutional life sciences investors for a $75 million private placement.
The combined company will focus on advancing Tourmaline’s lead program, TOUR006, a potentially best-in-class anti-IL-6 antibody, for the treatment of thyroid eye disease and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Upon completion of the merger, the combined company will operate under the name Tourmaline Bio, and trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “TRML.” In addition, Talaris anticipates making a cash dividend of up to approximately $64.8 million to its stockholders prior to the closing of the Merger.
“We have assembled a world-class team with deep experience developing antibodies for immune disorders and are now on the verge of beginning our Phase 2 development campaign in multiple indications. We believe that TOUR006 has best-in-class potential and could be a transformative treatment option for millions of patients suffering from immune disorders,” said Sandeep Kulkarni, CEO of Tourmaline. “This merger and the support from leading life sciences investors will allow us to accelerate our development plans in TED, heart disease, and potentially other indications.”
The combined company’s lead indication is TED, also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation and disfigurement around the eye which can be sight-threatening in severe cases. Off-label use of IL-6 pathway inhibitors in TED has been well-documented in literature demonstrating strong evidence of the ability of such inhibitors to reduce inflammation, eye-bulging, and key biomarkers such as pathogenic autoantibodies.
Its lead program, TOUR006, is an anti-IL-6 antibody with best-in-class properties including high binding affinity to IL-6 and a naturally long half-life which potentially enables delivery as a low-volume, infrequently administered, subcutaneous injection. Tourmaline’s strategy is to develop TOUR006 in diseases characterized by inflammation and autoantibodies, where IL-6 pathway inhibitors have been underexplored despite compelling signals of clinical benefit.
Tourmaline plans to initiate a phase 2b trial of TOUR006 for the treatment of TED in the third quarter of 2023. The planned second indication for TOUR006 is ASCVD, which continues to be a leading cause of death globally despite the wide availability of oral therapies. IL-6 has been implicated as a promising drug target for addressing ASCVD by over two decades of clinical, genetic, and experimental research. Tourmaline plans to initiate a phase 2 trial of TOUR006 in ASCVD in 2024.
Tourmaline plans to seek additional indication opportunities for TOUR006 among the wide array of diseases where IL-6 inhibition has been validated. TOUR006 was licensed by Tourmaline from Pfizer Inc. in May 2022. Pfizer had completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials in other indications with a safety profile consistent with the anti-IL-6 and anti-IL-6R class.
Photo: Sandeep Kulkarni, CEO of Tourmaline
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