TARIS Biomedical LLC, a Lexington, Massachusetts-based company developing targeted new therapies for millions of patients suffering from difficult-to-treat bladder diseases, has raised $25M in a Series B financing. In a separate announcement, TARIS also announced that it has entered into a clinical research collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb to study the combination of Opdivo and TARIS’ lead program TAR-200 in the treatment of muscle invasive bladder cancer. “We have made substantial progress on our lead programs in bladder cancer and overactive bladder,” said Purnanand Sarma, Indian American president and CEO of TARIS. “Both programs demonstrate our unique approach to designing novel therapeutics that may dramatically change the management of these serious diseases. Funds from this round will be used to rapidly advance both indications through key clinical milestones. TARIS is thrilled to add new investors to our syndicate, and we are grateful to Flagship Pioneering, Polaris Partners, and RA Capital Management for their ongoing support,” Sarma said.

Jury Announced for Annual Lionel Gelber Prize

Patricia Rubin, chair of the Lionel Gelber Prize and The Lionel Gelber Foundation, and Randall Hansen, interim director of the Munk School of Global Affairs, announced the jurors for the 28th annual awarding of the prestigious Lionel Gelber Prize, among them Bangalore-based Ramachandra Guha. Guha is joined by jury chair Janice Gross Stein of Toronto, Oxford-based Desmond King; Tokyo-based Dr. David M. Malone and California-based Jeannette Money. "Created in memory of the Canadian scholar, diplomat and author Lionel Gelber, we are gratified that the prize attracts such distinguished jurors, year after year," said Rubin, the niece of the late Lionel Gelber. A shortlist will be selected Jan. 30 with the winner announced Feb. 27. The winner will be invited to speak at a free public event at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto in April.

Amazon May Invest in Insurance Startup Acko

Ecommerce giant Amazon is in final stages of closing an investment in online-only insurance startup Acko, the Economics Times reported. Per the report, the deal will see Amazon co-create financial products with Acko besides being a distributor. Mumbai-based fintech startup Acko General Insurance founded by Coverfox co-founder Varun Dua last year had secured $30 million in a seed round in May 2017. The company recently received its in-principle regulatory clearance to launch a General Insurance business in India. It has received R1 license and has filed for R2 license with the insurance authority, the report said. With Amazon buying stake in Acko, it will allow the online retailer to diversify its customer base and partake a piece of the fintech market in India, it said.

Quartet Closes $40 Million Funding Round

Quartet, a technology company bridging physical and mental healthcare, announced that it has raised $40 million in a Series C round to fuel the nationwide expansion of its proven model. The financing was led by F-Prime Capital Partners and Polaris Partners. This brings the total amount of capital raised to date by Quartet to $87 million. Quartet will use the new capital to expand its core engineering and product capabilities across its primary care, behavioral health and patient platforms, scale its machine learning team, and continue to build out its provider network, partner success and new business development functions. “Making collaboration between primary care physicians and behavioral health specialists work is a must if we are ever going to improve the overall health of our country,” said Arun Gupta, founder and CEO of Quartet. “The bridge between mental and physical health is being built with technology leading the charge. We have experienced tremendous growth coming into 2018, and are excited to have the best of the healthcare and technology worlds supporting us as we scale.”

Scholar Rock Announces $47M Series C Financing

Scholar Rock, a biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing drugs that selectively modulate growth factor activation in the disease microenvironment, has closed a $47 million Series C financing round. The financing was led by new investor Invus, with the participation of new investor Redmile Group. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance SRK-015, the company’s lead clinical candidate for Spinal Muscular Atrophy and other neuromuscular disorders, into clinical development in the first half of 2018. Scholar Rock plans to evaluate the potential of SRK-015 to improve muscle strength and motor function, both in SMA patients who are on therapies aimed at upregulating the production of the deficient SMN protein and as monotherapy in certain subpopulations of SMA patients. “We are delighted by the strong support and recognition we received in this Series C financing and the expansion of our group of world-class life sciences investors, which now includes Invus and Redmile,” said Nagesh Mahanthappa, president and CEO of Scholar Rock. “We expect 2018 to be a critical year of growth for Scholar Rock, as we advance the first clinical candidate from our groundbreaking platform into the clinic to address an important unmet need in SMA and continue to build out our pipeline.”

CLARA Analytics Raises $11.5M Series A Round

CLARA analytics, an AI and data science company specializing in building easy-to-use AI-based solutions focused on claims operations for the property and casualty and disability insurance industries, announced a $11.5 million Series A funding round led by Oak HC/FT. Jayant Lakshmikanthan, founder and CEO of CLARA analytics, said, “CLARA brings together a combination of the latest in AI technology, extensive insurance industry expertise, and a design thinking approach to rapidly drive meaningful value for our customers. We are excited to welcome Oak HC/FT to the team and look forward to leveraging their extensive insurance and insurtech expertise.” CLARA’s customers range from market leading and small specialty focused carriers to self-insureds and TPAs. The solutions are currently focused on workers’ compensation but will soon extend to other lines like commercial auto, general and professional liability as well as disability.

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