DURHAM, N.C. –December 13, 2022 — Tellus Therapeutics, a neonatal care company developing treatments for newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), announced today the closing of a Series A financing round of $35 million led by the Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund (“PXV Fund”). The capital will be used to continue important preclinical work conducted through the seed investment with the Xontogeny development team and to advance TT-20, the company’s lead candidate for the treatment of white matter brain injury in preterm infants, as well as the company’s pipeline programs.
“We are pleased to see our partnership with Xontogeny thriving and joined by Perceptive Advisors’ PXV Fund,” said Jason Kralic, Tellus co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Together we are committed to developing treatments for babies at risk for brain injury and other unmet medical needs in the NICU. The investment by PXV is bringing Tellus one step closer to delivering first-in-class treatments that improve outcomes for our most vulnerable patient population. This is a big step for Tellus, but only a baby step compared to the impact that these treatments could have on the lives of preterm infants and their families.”
One in ten babies is born premature in the United States and is at significant risk for brain injury. White matter injury (WMI) is the most common brain injury for survivors of preterm birth and is characterized by a reduction in myelin development in the brain, resulting in poor neurodevelopmental outcomes affecting motor and cognitive ability. Tellus’s lead candidate, TT-20, is derived from a class of molecules found in breast milk, which promote the generation of myelin from postnatal neural stem populations. The mechanism is reparative and independent of the cause of WMI, thereby providing an advantage over neuroprotective approaches that target only injury prevention. There are no approved treatments for WMI in newborns. TT-20 has demonstrated safety and efficacy in models of WMI, supporting it as a potential breakthrough treatment to address this unmet medical need in babies born premature.
“The collaborative nature and neonatal expertise of the Tellus team combined with the collective drug development experience of Xontogeny has led to a well-designed development strategy in an area that has traditionally lacked know-how or an established path. Tellus is navigating a complex development pathway for neonate-first innovations, and we believe that they are positioned to become a leader in the space,” said Chris Garabedian, Portfolio Manager of PXV Funds and Chief Executive Officer of Xontogeny. “Perceptive Advisors is pleased with the data generated to date as well as a recent, positive FDA interaction to continue advancing the program into the clinic. We are excited to support Tellus Therapeutic’s ongoing work and are confident in the team’s ability to navigate through a challenging development area.”
Tellus Therapeutics was seeded by Xontogeny in May 2021 to advance TT-20 through an FDA pre-IND meeting and to generate a clinical formulation suitable for newborn patients in the NICU. The Series A financing was closed following a positive FDA interaction and new formulation pharmacokinetic data in juvenile animals. Tellus Therapeutics is led by Jason Kralic, Eric Benner (Co-Founder and acting Chief Scientific Officer) and Austin Schwartz (Vice President of Operations). Chris Garabedian and Fred Callori, Xontogeny Chief Executive Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, respectively, will continue to serve as Chairman and Member of the Tellus Board of Directors.
About Tellus Therapeutics
Tellus Therapeutics is a neonatal care company developing safe and effective interventions for unmet needs of newborns. Founded in October 2018, Tellus is translating breakthrough science licensed from Duke University that originated in board-certified neonatologist Dr. Eric Benner’s research laboratory together with collaborator and Tellus scientific co-founder Dr. Simon Gregory. Dr. Benner’s work identified compounds in breast milk that induce the regeneration of myelin-producing oligodendrocytes and repair WMI in animal models of perinatal brain injury. Tellus’s goal for its lead asset, TT-20, is to provide a treatment for every baby born at risk for brain injury and to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes for affected children. For more information, visit www.tellustherapeutics.com.
The Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Funds
The Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Funds are Perceptive Advisors investment vehicles focused purely on early-stage, private venture investments in life sciences companies. Primary investments for the Funds include companies that are seeking a lead investor for Series A financings, which include both companies that are seeded and incubated at Xontogeny and companies that are seeded and incubated by other organizations, accelerators and seed investors. The PXV Funds are also open to participating in syndicated Series A financings as a co-lead or passive investor with other venture capital firms. For more information, visit www.perceptivelife.com.
About Xontogeny, LLC
Based in Boston, MA, Xontogeny seeks to accelerate the development of life science technologies by providing entrepreneurs with funding options as well as the leadership, strategic guidance and operational support necessary to increase the probability of success in early drug and technology development. Through a differentiated approach, the Xontogeny team partners with founding scientists and entrepreneurs to support their vision while allowing a more efficient development model that benefits company founders and early equity holders. For more information visit www.xontogeny.com.
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