Duke-NUS spinout PairX Bio launches with strong biotech credentials, venture capital backing

- Startup to advance innovative biotechnology built on deep expertise in mRNA splicing biology and proprietary immunotherapy platform exclusively licensed from Duke-NUS Medical School

- Founding team led by seasoned US and Singapore scientists-cum-entrepreneurs and investors with strong track records in biotech startups, venture capital and investment

SINGAPORE, 12 August 2020 – PairX Bio (“PairX”), a next generation biotechnology startup focusing on cutting-edge cancer immunotherapies, and Duke-NUS Medical School (“Duke-NUS”), Singapore’s flagship research-intensive graduate entry medical school, today announced the formation and spinout of the Company from Duke-NUS, where PairX’s foundational technologies were developed.



PairX Bio, a next generation biotechnology startup with exclusive license to Duke-NUS Medical School’s deep expertise and proprietary technology in cancer immunotherapies, is led by seasoned US and Singapore scientists-cum-entrepreneurs and investors with strong track records in biotech startups, venture capital and investment. Pictured from left to right are Mr XQ Lin, Managing Partner of Esco Ventures X; Dr Raymond Lee, Scientific Founder, PairX, Research Fellow at Duke-NUS’ Cancer & Stem Cell Biology (CSCB) programme; Mr Jeffrey Lu, Avendesora, representative of investment firm Avendesora; and and Dr David M. Epstein, Scientific Founder, PairX, and Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke-NUS’ CSCB programme, who is also Founder and CEO of Black Diamond Therapeutics, a precision oncology medicine company. (Credit: PairX | Duke-NUS Medical School)

Cancer immunotherapies have already had a transformative impact for some patients, by enhancing the ability of the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. Cancer cells express antigens on their surfaces, which can be recognised by immune cells (T cells) and potentiate cancer cell killing. However, major challenges in the field include identifying the antigens being expressed by cancer cells, and potentiating T cells to recognise and attack the cancer cells. PairX’s unique approaches to identifying these shared antigen and T cell pairs have already been demonstrated and hold promise for solving major unmet needs.

PairX discovers and develops innovative cancer immunotherapies targeting shared tumour-associated antigens derived from aberrantly spliced proteins. The company leverages its differentiated platform built upon deep understanding of mRNA splicing biology, proprietary antigen and T cell validation methods, and patient derived tumours and data across multiple cancer types. The founding team and investors bring demonstrated track records in cancer drug discovery and biotech company-building towards significant value-creating milestones.

PairX has exclusively licensed the intellectual property (IP) from Duke-NUS and continues to leverage the School’s world-class research capabilities, which are further enhanced by its Academic Medicine partnership with SingHealth, Singapore’s largest healthcare group.

The biotech startup is led by scientific founders Dr David M. Epstein, Founder and CEO of Black Diamond Therapeutics, a precision oncology medicine company, and Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke-NUS’ Cancer & Stem Cell Biology (CSCB) programme, and Dr Raymond Lee, Research Fellow at Duke-NUS’ CSCB programme. PairX was incubated by Esco Ventures, and the founding investors of the Company are Esco Ventures and Avendesora, an investment company represented by Mr Jeffrey Lu.

“I am delighted that Duke-NUS, Esco Ventures, Avendesora and the PairX founding team are partnering to commercialise our platform and pipeline of novel cancer antigen–T cell pairs. This seed financing uniquely positions PairX to advance precision immunotherapies designed to treat cancer patients defined by shared mRNA splicing defects,” said Adj Assoc Prof Epstein.

Central to the commercial stewardship of Duke-NUS’ technological innovations, including the IP licensed to PairX, is Duke-NUS’ Centre for Technology & Development (CTeD), which provides a full suite of commercialisation-focused services to budding inventors and entrepreneurs among its research rank and file. These include due diligence and IP filing services, identification of suitable partners, negotiation of financial and legal agreements, and other business-focused expertise to ultimately support Duke-NUS IP licensing and spin-outs, such as PairX.

“We are very excited about PairX’s deployment of Duke-NUS technology, the result of a very good working relationship between Duke-NUS and Esco Ventures over our incubation period,” said Dr Cheryl McCaffery, Director of CTeD, Duke-NUS Medical School. “This is the 14th significant deal closed by CTeD, and the ninth start-up company, founded by our Investigators, to which CTeD has facilitated the granting of licences to NUS IP rights arising from our research programmes. We wish PairX every possible success.”

“Esco Ventures X is pleased to be partnering with Prof David Epstein and Mr Jeff Lu, in this esteemed league of founders to launch PairX Bio. We will continue to build the Singapore biotech ecosystem and look forward to advancing PairX’s technologies and assets with Duke-NUS to address the unmet medical needs of patients globally.”

- Mr XQ Lin, Managing Partner of Esco Ventures X

“Duke-NUS has a very strong track record in engaging in world class research with the potential to not only transform health but also deliver financial returns to partners and investors,” said Prof Patrick Casey, Senior Vice Dean for Research, Duke-NUS Medical School. “Key to our ‘bench to bedside’ approach to healthcare transformation in partnership with SingHealth is the kind of commercialisation exemplified by this spinout. I am confident that PairX and Duke-NUS will continue to advance cancer immunotherapy for the benefit of all cancer patients.”

About PairX

PairX Bio is developing next generation cancer immunotherapies targeting shared tumor-associated antigens derived from aberrantly spliced proteins. The PairX platform is built upon a deep understanding of mRNA splicing biology, proprietary antigen and T Cell validation methods, and patient-derived tumors and data across multiple cancer types. This yields simultaneous validation of tumor antigen-T Cell pairs across multiple cancers, resulting in novel patient-relevant biology to drive innovative therapeutics. The foundational technology was developed at Duke-NUS Medical School in the lab of Prof David M. Epstein (Founder & CEO of Black Diamond Therapeutics). The company was incubated by Esco Ventures X and spun out from Duke-NUS. The founding investors are Esco Ventures and Avendesora (an investment company represented by Jeffrey Lu).


For more information, please visit http://www.pairxbio.com/

About Duke-NUS Medical School

Duke-NUS is Singapore’s flagship graduate entry medical school, established in 2005 with a strategic, government-led partnership between two world-class institutions: Duke University School of Medicine and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Through an innovative curriculum, students at Duke-NUS are nurtured to become multi-faceted ‘Clinicians Plus’ poised to steer the healthcare and biomedical ecosystem in Singapore and beyond. A leader in ground-breaking research and translational innovation, Duke-NUS has gained international renown through its five signature research programmes and nine centres. The enduring impact of its discoveries is amplified by its successful Academic Medicine partnership with Singapore Health Services (SingHealth), Singapore’s largest healthcare group. This strategic alliance has spawned 15 Academic Clinical Programmes, which harness multi-disciplinary research and education to transform medicine and improve lives.

For more information, please visit www.duke-nus.edu.sg

For media enquiries, please contact:

XQ Lin

PairX Bio

Email: xq.lin@pairxbio.com

Federico Graciano

Duke-NUS Medical School

Tel: +65 6601 3272

Email: f.graciano@duke-nus.edu.sg


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