Doctors

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A group of local researchers plan to use a $100 million Series A financing to advance their proprietary allogenic cell therapy.

Therapeutics, Inc., a company that develops cell therapies for organ transplant recipients, announced  Series A financing Thursday that will change the cell therapy, called FCR001, into later-stage clinical development in multiple immune-related indications.

Organ transplants are lifesaving, but patients are typically required to take anti-rejection medicine for the rest of their lives. Thursday's announcement means that could soon no longer be the case.

In fact, some transplant recipients are already benefiting from the therapy.

Robert Waddell a transplant recipient in Louisville, was born with genetic kidney disease. By the time he was 40 years old, doctors said kidney transplant surgery was eminent, but Waddell has a mother and sister who have received transplants, and he knew that came with a lot of anti-rejection drugs and risks.

"A lot of medicine all day long, and they have side effects, actually, slowly, over time, they damage your kidney," Waddell said.

And the need for a second transplant is just about guaranteed.

"I was 40 years old, and I know that with the immunosuppresant drugs, the life of the kidney is about 12 to 15 years," he said.

So Waddell signed up for the clinical trial that included a kidney and stem cell transplant.

"I saw first hand what the patients faced due to the toxicity of the drugs that they have to take to prevent rejection," said Dr. Suzanne Ilstad, M.D., founder and chief scientific officer of Talaris.

Ilstad has spent 30 years researching and developing cell therapies to improve post-transplant care.

"We began focusing on a way to trick the immune system so that the patients don't need to take all those drugs," she said. "Most kidney transplant patients have to take about 25 drugs a day."

Ilstad eventually founded Talaris Therapeutics. On Thursday, the company made the major announcement.

"They've committed a $100 million to enable us to run a phase three trial ... the last stage of development before a therapy can be approved," said Scott Requadt, CEO of Talaris.

Waddell no longer considers himself a transplant patient and now feels confident he's been cured.

"It has been ten years," he said. "I forget that I've had a kidney transplant, that's how wonderful it is."

Talaris currently has about 25 employees in Louisville. Talaris’ research and cell processing facilities are based at the University of Louisville, and it also has a corporate office in Boston. 

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