ELITE 2021 Drug Researchers and Developers Bobak Azamian and Michael Ackermann of Tarsus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Bobak Azamian

President, CEO, and Co-Founder

Tarsus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Michael Ackermann

Chairman and Co-Founder

Tarsus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Mission to Revolutionize Eye Care Treatment

As many as 25 million Americans may suffer from Demodex blepharitis, an eye condition that causes red, itchy eyelids, lash abnormalities, and can lead to inflammation of other eye tissue, particularly the cornea. Despite the high prevalence of this condition, there’s currently no FDA approved therapy. Bobak Azamian, MD, PhD and Michael Ackermann, PhD recognized this significant unmet medical need and created Tarsus to identify and develop a novel treatment. Today, the company’s investigational therapy for Demodex blepharitis, TP-03, is being studied in a Phase 2b/3 trial—Saturn-1.

This is nothing new for Bobak and Michael, as both have spent their careers addressing unmet patient needs. Bobak, a physician scientist who started his career in venture capital, previously founded and served as CEO and CMO of Metavention, a company that develops novel treatments for metabolic disease and Vibrato Medical, which develops wearable treatments for peripheral arterial disease. Meanwhile, Michael, a neuroscientist, bioengineer, and graduate of Stanford’s Biodesign program, founded and served as President and CEO of Oculeve, a neuromodulation tech startup acquired by Allergan in 2016, and co-founded two other neuromodulation companies, Oyster Point Pharma and Presidio Medical.

The two met while founding their first companies and reconnected at a medical device conference, where they began discussing blepharitis and the need for a solution. They started exhaustive research into possible treatments that target Demodex mites, a historically under-appreciated cause of blepharitis. Their search led to an unexpected inspiration. In veterinary medicine, a new isoxazoline, lotilaner, has largely eliminated mange, the canine form of Demodex infestation. Convinced that lotilaner could be effective in humans, and for an entirely new ophthalmic indication, they developed a novel formulation of lotilaner as an eye drop for human use, called TP-03.

In repeated Phase 2 trials, treatment with TP-03 achieved collarette cure and mite eradication in a majority of patients. The Phase 2b/3 Saturn-1 trial is ongoing, and Tarsus expects to begin the Phase 3 Saturn-2 trial this year. If trials remain successful, TP-03 has the potential to become the first FDA-approved treatment for Demodex blepharitis and potentially help millions who suffer with this common eye condition without an efficacious therapy.


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