Singaporean Biotech Startup ImmunoScape Raises US$11M

ImmunoScape is currently collaborating with Arcturus Therapeutics which began human trials of potential COVID-19 vaccine yesterday

Singapore-based biotech startup ImmunoScape announced in a press release today that it has raised US$11 million (SG$14.8 million) in an equity financing round led by U.S.-based Anzu Partners, with participation from the University of Tokyo Edge Capital (UTEC) in Japan, and NPR Holdings in Indonesia.

The startup will use the fresh funds to hire additional personnel, including immunologists, bioinformaticians and specialists, for its laboratory at Singapore-based research and development hub Biopolis, Co-founder and CEO Choon Peng Ng told The Straits Times.

Peng also said that the startup is looking to expand into key markets such as the U.S. and Japan, and is building a business development team and lab in the U.S. as well.

ImmunoScape provides insights into the human immune system. Its immune profiling platform provides deep insights into the T-cells of the human immune system. The company is currently engaged in COVID-19 related projects across three continents, according to the press release.

The startup hopes to eventually use machine learning and artificial intelligence to uncover deeper insights into the human immune system.

“There is an urgent need to understand how the T-cell immune response contributes to COVID-19 immunity and can be leveraged for vaccine design,” said ImmunoScape Co-founder and COO Dr Alessandra Nardin.

“In global collaborations with Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Parma (Italy), and Duke-NUS, we are evaluating COVID-19 patients and recovered individuals,” he continued. “We are building a large data set on human T-cell response to COVID-19, in an effort to develop new therapies and better vaccines with our partners.”

ImmunoScape is also collaborating with several vaccine development companies, including San Diego-based Arcturus which is running clinical trials in Singapore, and began human trials of potential COVID-19 vaccine yesterday.

“As a Singapore-based firm supported by the Agency for Science Technology and Research (ASTAR), our team has deep experience assessing T-cell immune response to dengue, hepatitis B, and other viruses,” Ng said. Ng was formerly a senior executive at ASTAR.

“It was clear that we must provide deep support to COVID-19 vaccine development in this global crisis,” he added.

ImmunoScape’s technology was based on work that began at Stanford University, and continued at A*STAR, where the company was established in 2017.

The company aspires to continue its efforts in enabling advanced immunotherapies for cancer, an area where its scientific track record is strong. The startup focuses on immuno-oncology research which aims at developing cancer treatments using the body’s immune system.

ImmunoScape has received support from ASTAR and its commercialization arm Accelerate, as well as Enterprise Singapore.

“In 2019 we co-authored a paper together with collaborators at Genentech illustrating the role of our technology in evaluating checkpoint blockade immunotherapies,” said Nardin.

“The interest in those insights attracted global attention and encouraged us to seek financing to expand further into the U.S. market,” he added.

“To deliver on the promise of individualized medicine for cancer, the biopharma industry desperately needs more insight into every patient’s unique immune system. ImmunoScape can deliver this, and we are delighted to support them,” Managing Partner at Anzu Partners, David Michael said.

“ImmunoScape’s technology can guide the development of immunotherapies, as the company has shown in major scientific journals. Now they are bringing these insights and capabilities to major biopharma clients globally,” Partner at UTEC, Dr Naonori Kurokawa said.

Header image by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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