Research & Development

One in ten babies is born preterm and at significant risk for brain injury and life-long cognitive and neurological impairments, such as cerebral palsy. Perinatal diffuse white matter injury (DWMI) is the leading cause of neurodevelopmental disability in survivors of preterm birth.  There are currently no treatment options available. Tellus is developing an oxysterol found in human maternal breast milk that promotes oligodendrocyte differentiation in postnatal neural stem cell populations. Systemic administration of the breast milk-associated oxysterol rescued perinatal DWMI and reversed motor deficits in mice. Tellus’ lead candidate is in late preclinical development having initiated drug product formulation, IND-enabling work and preparation for a pre-IND meeting in 2020.

Tellus is uniquely positioned to develop the first treatment for newborns with DWMI. The mechanism of action is reparative and independent of the cause of white matter injury thereby providing an advantage over neuroprotective approaches that target only injury prevention. The exposure of breast-fed newborns to naturally-occurring oxysterols supports development as a therapeutic for neonates in which safety is paramount. Duke University and Tellus’ scientific founder have filed and maintained company-relevant patents protecting using of oxysterols for treatment of brain injury.