Our Mission

Unlocking Telomeres

Blondin Bioscience is producing precision clinical diagnostics tools in the rapidly growing field of cell-free DNA diagnosis. Our mission is to develop a precision cancer diagnostic technology platform for faster, more personalized, and cost effective cancer care – globally.

Our cancer molecular diagnostics assay, FACT, is currently in development. FACT capitalizes on proprietary intellectual property developed by our scientists to measure tumor burden. FACT measures plasma cell-free telomeric DNA released by cancer cells. It can be used to assess response to chemotherapy treatment. FACT should have application for all solid tumor types.

Cancer Impacts Us All

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Breast Cancer Cases Diagnosed Per Year in the U.S.

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Prostate Cancer Cases Diagnosed Per Year in the U.S.

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Lung Cancer Cases Diagnosed Per Year in the U.S.

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Pancreatic Cancer Cases Diagnosed Per Year in the U.S.

This year about 564,800 Americans are expected to die of cancer—more than 1,500 people a day. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease.

One of every four deaths in the US is from cancer. Since 1990, there have been approximately 5 million cancer deaths. For patients with metastatic disease, 5-year survival rates are often as low as 10%-20%.

Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime:

41%

Our Products

FACT is a blood test which measures a nucleic acid biomarker released from dying cancer cells. The FACT test can be performed regularly during chemotherapy treatment. An inadequate decrease in the cell free telomere level could alert the testing oncologist to possible ineffective treatment. By collapsing the amount of time required for treatment efficacy assessment, Blondin Bioscience will contribute to reducing the overall cancer burden for patients.
Speeding the time to knowledge will reduce the emotional expenditure, financial burden, potential side effects from ineffective drugs, and perhaps most importantly, the time required to find the optimal treatment protocol. In short, we hope to save lives. Learn more by listening to Blondin Bioscience’s interview with Birmingham Business Radio or by reading Kirti Patel’s blog post.

Science:

 

Telomeric DNA is over-expressed in cell-free DNA from cancer cells. This cell-free telomeric DNA (cf-tel DNA) is preferentially secreted by cancer cells relative to healthy cells, thus cf-tel is a measure of tumor burden. Blondin’s novel DNA capture technology (developed by Dr. Kate Hayden and collaborators) allows for specific quantification of cf-tel DNA using proprietary tests developed at Blondin. A pilot clinical study of the ability of cf-tel DNA to predict clinical response in metastatic prostate cancer is underway at UAB Medical Center. Expansion of this study to Duke, Vanderbilt, Emory and other academic medical centers is planned in a SBIRPhase 2 application to the NIH. Similar clinical studies in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, triple negative breast cancer, and metastatic colon cancer are planned for the future.

In other Blondin research, Dr. Katri Selander, has been investigating TLR9 as a source of health care disparity in triple negative breast cancer. She has previously found that high TLR9 (an important protein in the innate immune system) is associated with good prognosis in Caucasian patients, but not in African-American patients. She has identified genetic differences in the TLR9 gene between these two ethnic groups that may be the cause of this difference in protection by TLR9. She has submitted an NIH R21 application to the Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to study the effect of these genetic changes. Also, she will determine if bisphosphonate drugs can overcome the inability of high TLR9 to support a good prognosis in African-American patients. This work could lead to additional Blondin commercial products such as TLR9 clinical diagnostics, and a novel bisphosphonate drug to treat triple negative breast cancer.

1. Estrogen receptor-α and sex steroid hormones regulate Toll-like receptor-9 expression and invasive function in human breast cancer cells.Sandholm J, Kauppila JH, Pressey C, Tuomela J, Jukkola-Vuorinen A, Vaarala M, Johnson MR, Harris KW, Selander KS. (2012).Breast Cancer Res Treat. Apr;132(2):411-9, 

2. Low TLR9 expression defines an aggressive subtype of triple-negative breast cancer.Tuomela JSandholm JKarihtala PIlvesaro JVuopala KSKauppila JHKauppila SChen DPressey CHärkönen PHarris KWGraves DAuvinen PKSoini YJukkola-Vuorinen ASelander KS. (2012). Breast Cancer Res Treat.135(2): 481-93,.

3. DNA from dead cancer cells induces TLR9-mediated invasion and inflammation in living cancer cells Tuomela J, Sandholm J, Kaakinen M, Patel A, Kauppila JH, Ilvesaro J, Chen D, Harris KW, Graves D, Selander KS. (2013) Breast Cancer Res Treat. Dec;142(3):477-87. 

4. Hypoxia regulates Toll-like receptor-9 expression and invasive function in human brain cancer cells in vitro.  Sandholm, J., Tuomela, J., Kauppila, J. H., Harris, K. W., Graves, D., and Selander, K. S. (2014), Oncology Letters 8, 266-274.

5. Toll-like receptor 9 expression is associated with breast cancer sensitivity to the growth inhibitory effects of bisphosphonates in vitro and in vivo. Sandholm, J., Lehtimaki, J., Ishizu, T., Velu, S.E., Clark, J., Harkonen, P., Jukkola-Vuorinen, A., Schrey, A., Harris, K.W., Tuomela, J.M. et al. (2016) Oncotarget. Dec 27;7(52):87373-87389 (2016)

6. Telomeric G-quadruplex-forming DNA fragments induce TLR9-mediated and LL-37-regulated invasion in breast cancer cells in vitro. Tuomela, J.M., Sandholm, J.A., Kaakinen, M., Hayden, K.L., Haapasaari, K.M., Jukkola-Vuorinen, A., Kauppila, J.H., Lehenkari, P.P., Harris, K.W., Graves, D.E. et al. (2016) Breast Cancer Res Treat, 155, 261-271.

7. Isolation and purification of cell-free human telomeric DNA using peptide nucleic acid (PNA) capture probes. Hayden K, Gupta A, Armitage B, Selander K, and Graves D. (2017) In preparation for submission to Biochemistry

8. Cell-free telomeric DNA is associated with breast cancer proliferation and death. 
Tuominen, S., Habash, M., Hayden, K.,Jukkola-Vuorinen, A., Harris, K.W., Tuomela, J.M., Selander, K.S. (2017) Manuscript submitted

9. Cell-free telomeric DNA is released from patients with acute myeloid leukemia in response to chemotherapy-induced cell death. Borate U., Hossain EM, Metha A, Pressey C, Ousley RJ, Bartlett T,  Dhulipala V, Stoltz KM, Graves D, Selander KS, and Harris KW. (2017)  Manuscript submitted

NIH Awards $750,000 SBIR Grant to Blondin Bioscience

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Meet Our Team

Blondin Bioscience is a team of expert scientists and business professionals driven to dramatically impact how cancer is treated, decreasing the cancer burden for patients, physicians, and insurance companies.

  • Dr. Katri Selander
    Founder, Chief Scientific Officer
    Dr. Katri Selander
    Founder, Chief Scientific Officer

    Dr. Selander is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has 20 years of lab experience with various pre-clinical cancer models, and is a member of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. She received an MD, PhD degree from the University of Oulu Medical School in Oulu, Finland. Her research currently involves characterizing the molecular and cellular phenotype of the poor prognosis low TLR9-triple negative breast cancer that her group has discovered. She also has clinical experience in oncology.

  • Dr. Kevin Harris
    Founder, Chief Medical Officer
    Dr. Kevin Harris
    Founder, Chief Medical Officer

    Dr. Harris is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) , and is a member of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is an MD, PhD with 25 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of blood diseases. His laboratory is committed to translational research in the molecular biology of cancer.

  • Brad Spencer
    Chief Executive Officer
    Brad Spencer
    Chief Executive Officer

    Spencer has previous experience as CEO of a medical device company, COO of a publishing company, and Business Development Director with a software company. He is a founder of Bonaventure Capital, and he served as Vice President of Finance for a Harbert Management Corporation portfolio company. Previous large company experience is with The Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati and with the former Price Waterhouse in Birmingham, AL. Spencer earned a B.S. with honors in Accounting at Birmingham-Southern College before earning an MBA at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Perhaps the most meaningful previous position is teaching “Failure and Creativity” class during the January term of his undergraduate alma mater.

  • Dr. Kate Hayden
    MS, PhD, Director of Research
    Dr. Kate Hayden
    MS, PhD, Director of Research

    Kate Hayden is Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Birmingham-Southern and investigates the structural and thermodynamic properties of non-helical DNA structures. She has previous experience as an analytical chemist for various pharmaceutical companies where she performed GMP/GLP analytical method development and validation for a variety of products. Hayden studied Chemistry and Biology at the University of Montevallo for her B.S. and obtained a M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

  • Kathleen Hamrick
    Director of Operations
    Kathleen Hamrick
    Director of Operations

    Hamrick serves Innovation Depot and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) as Director of the UAB Innovation Lab: Birmingham’s first student-venture incubator. In this role, she has been instrumental in the sourcing of seed investment for a number of early-stage student-led ventures and played an integral role in the successful development and launch of for-credit experiential courses for students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. Hamrick holds a B.S. and a Certificate in Technology Commercialization from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and a Certificate in Negotiation through Harvard Law School’s Advanced Master Negotiation Program.

  • Kevin Stoltz
    Research Scientist
    Kevin Stoltz
    Research Scientist

    Kevin is a research scientist, and the first full-time employee at Blondin Bioscience. He earned a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in biology from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where his Master’s work examined transcriptional regulation in budding yeast. Kevin is currently developing the FACT assay for use in a clinical setting. In optimizing FACT and helping bring it to market, he hopes to directly improve the lives of cancer patients by giving rapid access to actionable information to both them and their clinicians.

Advisory Board

Our team of leading scientists and market professionals are instrumental in both our technology development as well as in the development of our business.

Dr. Bruce Armitage

Founder, PNA Innovations and Professor and Co-Director, Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Nucleic Acid Science and Technology Bruce’s current research interests include the use of PNA for sequence-specific recognition of DNA and RNA and the development of new fluorescence imaging and sensing reagents.

Dr. David Graves

Professor & Chair, Department of Chemistry, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Areas of focus: Protein/Nucleic Acid Interactions, Intercalating Agents, NMR, Biophysics

Elizabeth Hamrick

Vice President Internal Equities Strategy, Morgan Stanley, New York Hamrick has deep knowledge of the financial services sector, including: investment banks, exchanges, broker-dealers, and financial technology companies. She has served as Vice President of Strategy M&A, MF Global, Inc.; and as Financial Analyst, Investment Banking Division, Financial Institutions Group.

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Our Location

Located In Beautiful Downtown Birmingham, AL

1500 1st Ave N #31, Birmingham, AL 35203 Phone: 205.250.8000

Web: www.InnovationDepot.org