TBD Therapeutics

Student: Ariel Thelander, 2020-2021

Sponsor: TBD Therapeutics/Laurie Littlepage/Glen Niebur, South Bend, IN

The project involves developing a path to commercialization for a treatment that would prevent growth of metastases of breast cancer in bone. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Bone metastases are coupled with shorter prognoses, more complications, and poorer quality of life for patients. Preventing the growth of bone metastases would be pivotal in patient care. The technology involves blocking a receptor/ligand pair involved in activating dormant cancer cells in the bone microenvironment. This receptor ligand pair, CXCL5/CXCR2, is essential to the initiation of malignant growth of the metastatic cells in the bone microenvironment. Blocking the pair means that any cancer cells in the bone marrow remain dormant. While the dormant cells are not activated, the metastatic process is suspended and metastatic tumors do not develop, nor does the bone serve as a source for further spread of cancerous cells through the body via the vasculature in the marrow. This technology is newly developed by Notre Dame faculty, and the spinoff company is pre-incorporation as of the beginning of the capstone project (Aug. 2020).