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Upstart Tarsus Pharmaceuticals Gains Confidence

Irvine-based Tarsus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: TARS) this month revealed clinical data that demonstrates the significant impact of Demodex blepharitis on overall quality of life, as it inches closer to approval for its lead drug candidate that seeks to treat and address the underlying cause of the eye condition.
 
Data revealed that Demodex blepharitis—an inflammation of the eyelids caused by Demodex mites that live among eyelashes and can lead to corneal damage, blurred vision and blindness—negatively affected the daily life in 80% of the patients with the disease.

 
Findings showed 51% of patients had symptoms of blepharitis for at least four years, but 58% reported they had never been diagnosed. About 52% of patients reported bothersome symptoms such as itchy eyes and dry eyes frequently or all the time; about 47% were conscious of their eyes all day; and about 47% had difficulty driving at night.

 
“The study underscores the importance of identifying the disease sooner, as well as the need for a safe, effective therapy that may provide substantial relief to this patient population,” said Elizabeth Yeu, chief medical advisor, who counts ties to local medtech accelerator Octane.

 
The company estimates 20 million people in the U.S. suffer from blepharitis.

Stock Tops $600M

Tarsus also presented efficacy and safety data that showed its lead drug candidate, TP-03, demonstrated statistically significant results for the primary endpoint, cure of collarette (dandruff highly correlated with Demodex infestation) was achieved in 80% of patients.

 
The secondary endpoint of mite eradication was achieved in 73% of patients.


Tarsus expects federal clearance for TP-03 by 2023; it plans to fund operations in the meantime with proceeds from its $88 million IPO in October and a recent Greater China licensing deal worth up to $200 million in value.  

 
The late clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company’s stock was priced at $16 in the IPO; it now trades at a price over $30, giving it a market valuation near $650 million.


“We have increased confidence in the market opportunity and need for a therapeutic option for the 25 million Americans that may be affected by this common ocular disease with no currently FDA-approved therapies,” Chief Executive Bobby Azamian told analysts when discussing first-quarter results.


The company on May 11 reported collecting $33.4 million in license fees for the first quarter ended March 31, up from none a year ago. Its net income was $10.4 million versus a $2 million loss a year ago. Its shares rose about 16% in the two weeks after the report. 

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