Ranked among the world’s most innovative health technology start-ups1, X-ZELL specialises in the detection of early stage cancers from small blood samples using a patented platform technology combining next generation multiplexing with Artificial Intelligence.
Initially capped at US$3 million, the round was extended to US$4 million at the start of 2020 to offset the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the clinical research landscape. It has been backed by a variety of high-profile angel investors from Asia, Europe and the Unites States, as well as Hong Kong-based biopharmaceutical specialist, Essex Bio-Technology.
According to company Founder & CEO, Dr Sebastian Bhakdi, the funds collected will enable X-ZELL to scale up the company’s Research & Development department and expand into new markets beyond Asia – with a special focus on his native country of Germany and central Europe.
“Covid-19 is a sore reminder that preventative healthcare and early disease detection are among the most pressing medical challenges of our time,” he says. “In the oncology space, we believe our technology has the potential to fast-track that paradigm shift. We can save millions of lives by empowering physicians to proactively manage our health instead of just reacting to symptoms.”
X-ZELL’s Seed+ round commenced in mid-2018 and gained significant momentum during the second half of 2019, according to Bhakdi. “2019 was a pivotal year for X-ZELL. It saw the highly anticipated publication of our first clinical data – confirming the vast potential of our cancer detection technology – as well as the opening of our new headquarters in Singapore. Here, we now have the privilege of collaborating with A*ccelerate’s Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub, one of the most influential diagnostics development centres in the world.”
Investors not only value the company’s clinical prowess and rapidly expanding network, but also praise the team’s immense sense of urgency, explains X-ZELL COO, Johannes Hille, who managed the current funding round.
“It’s fair to say that we have achieved more over the past two years than anyone would have thought possible,” he says, pointing to the fact that some 49,000 new cancer diagnoses are delivered every day – the vast majority of them at a late stage2.
“That diligence has now paid off – but it doesn’t mean we have time to rest on our laurels. An oversubscribed round is a powerful mandate to keep pushing ahead.”
According to Martin Wiechers, Managing Director at DIAG, X-ZELL’s unique selling point is the ability to reconcile future technologies with existing healthcare infrastructure.
“As we diversify our portfolio, the focus is on businesses that have both a strong product and a strong commercialisation plan,” he explains. “X-ZELL is one of these rare species. They have a technology that is capable of revolutionising cancer diagnostics. But they also understand that innovation must go hand-in-hand with execution to make an impact. At DIAG, we identify with that mindset.”
In line with that, X-ZELL Founder & CEO, Dr Sebastian Bhakdi, says the company’s current focus is firmly on maintaining positive momentum. “I am deeply grateful to our teams in Thailand, Singapore and Europe for keeping up the pace in 2020. A team capable of staying so calm and assertive during the most volatile of times, of not losing focus despite having to re-adjust constantly, is a team capable of changing the world.”
1Galen Growth, 2020; 2International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 2018
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Ranked among the most innovative health technology start-ups in the world,
X-ZELL fuses next-generation cell detection technology with cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence to isolate and visualise ultra-rare cells in blood and frozen tissue. In 2017, the company made global headlines when it demonstrated the ability to routinely locate tumour-associated Circulating Endothelial Cells (tCEC) in small, 10mL blood samples. Widely considered one of the most promising biomarkers for the early detection of clinically significant cancers, tCEC had previously been classified as undetectable in clinical routine. From its headquarters in Singapore, X-ZELL is aiming to make tCEC-based cancer screening accessible to patients around the globe – making the young company one of the promising names in the booming cancer prevention space.