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 white matter injury (WMI) is the leading cause of neurodevelopmental disability in survivors of preterm birth. There are currently no treatment options available. Tellus is developing compounds found in human maternal breast milk that promote oligodendrocyte differentiation in postnatal neural stem cell populations. Systemic administration of the breast milk-associated compounds rescued perinatal WMI 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 the next year.
Tellus is uniquely positioned to develop the first treatment for newborns with white matter brain injury. The mechanism of action is reparative and independent of the cause of WMI, thereby providing an advantage over neuroprotective approaches that target only injury prevention. The exposure of breast-fed newborns to naturally-occurring molecules 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 these breast-milk associated compounds for treatment of brain injury.