Cancer treatment startup started by Xiling Shen and David Hsu raises $70M

Nasdaq highlights Xilis on their tower in Times Square
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Cancer treatment startup started by Xiling Shen and David Hsu raises $70M

Durham, N.C. (July 8, 2021) – Xilis, Inc., a pioneering company using its MicroOrganoSphere (MOS) technology to guide precision therapy for cancer patients and accelerate drug discovery and development, today announced the close of a $70 million Series A financing. The round was led by Mubadala Capital, joined by new investors GV (formerly Google Ventures), LSP (one of Europe’s largest healthcare investment firms), Catalio Ventures, Duke Endowment, and Duke Angel Network. Current investors Felicis Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, Pear VC, KdT Ventures, and Alix Ventures also participated.

Founded in 2019 by Dr. Xiling ShenDr.David Hsu, and Dr. Hans Clevers, Xilis is based on decades of biomedical, oncology, and stem cell research by its three co-founders. Dr. Clevers, a Breakthrough Prize winner, is the inventor and pioneer of the organoid technology. Dr. Shen and Dr. Hsu are accomplished engineering and medical professors at Duke University and experts in precision medicine. They have developed the scalable MOS technology to analyze patients’ own tumors in their native microenvironment – a breakthrough achievement.

“Our vision is to transform cancer care in diagnostics and reshape drug development by providing a technology for rapid therapeutic profiling,” said Xiling Shen, PhD, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Xilis. “The support provided by these world-class investors is an important milestone for our journey to transform cancer care and dramatically improve patient survival by enabling personalized precision oncology and bringing transformative medicines to patients faster and with higher success rates,” added Dr. Shen.

Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, Scientific Co-Founder and Principal Investigator at the Hubrecht Institute, Netherlands, stated, “Since my lab invented organoids a dozen years ago, we provided proof-of-concept for many applications yet the technology remained slow, complex, and expensive. Dr. Shen and Dr. Hsu’s invention of the MOS technology has torn down those hurdles and will accelerate its use both in the clinic and for drug discovery and development.”

Xilis’ MOS has been proven to have broad applications:

  • Leveraging MOS and AI-driven algorithms, Xilis is developing its Precision Oncology Platform to accurately predict therapeutic responses to help clinicians prioritize cancer treatment strategies for each patient. The entire process from patient biopsy to results takes less than two weeks, enabling extensive clinical application.
  • The MOS technology enables high-fidelity pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. Drug developers can use this versatile platform at multiple stages of R&D, including early discovery, preclinical toxicity and efficacy, bioanalytical testing, and clinical trials.
  • MOS is a revolutionary technology for immunotherapy development, which requires the patient’s immune microenvironment.

Proceeds from the Series A funding will further advance Xilis’ proprietary MOS technology, expand its AI-driven capabilities, fund clinical studies for diagnostic development, and validate the use of MOS technology with biopharma partners.

“There is a critical need for technologies that can help clinicians determine the most optimal therapy for their individual patients,” Mubadala Capital’s Ayman AlAbdallah added. “Patients will benefit greatly from Xilis’ precision medicine assays by avoiding time spent on treatment cycles that are ineffective, and instead, receive therapies with the greatest potential of success quickly and efficiently. The Xilis Precision Oncology Platform is a cost-effective, outcomes-driven advancement that will help reduce the global burden of oncology costs.”

“Genetic approaches to cancer diagnostics continue to be impactful, and Xilis is creating meaningful pathways for its Precision Oncology Platform to improve cancer care for a broader set of patients,” said GV Managing Partner Krishna Yeshwant, MD, MBA. “Xilis brings together experts in the fields of organoid development and precision medicine, and I’m excited to work with this impressive team as they continue to develop a breakthrough approach.”

About Xilis

Based in Durham, North Carolina, Xilis, Inc. is a biotechnology company developing a precision oncology platform that guides treatment decisions for oncologists to improve cancer care outcomes for patients and supports drug discovery and development for pharmaceutical companies. Xilis’ proprietary MicroOrganoSphereTM (MOS) technology are miniature patient tumors that capture the full microenvironment and heterogeneity, and provides an automated and scalable solution. Using MOS and AI-driven algorithms, Xilis is developing a Xilis Response ScoreTM for the clinic, enabling oncologists to make informed and timely treatment decisions. Additionally, the MOS technology is speeding up development and clinical trials of cancer drugs by enabling analysis of authentic tumor microenvironments, high-throughput preclinical modeling, and clinical patient selection capabilities.

About Mubadala Investment Company  

Mubadala Capital is the asset management arm of Mubadala Investment Company, a leading global sovereign investor headquartered in Abu Dhabi. In addition to managing its own balance sheet investments, Mubadala Capital manages third-party capital on behalf of institutional investors in four of its businesses, including three private equity funds, two early stage venture funds, a public fund and a fund in Brazil focused on special situations. The various businesses invest across the capital structure in both public and private securities.

To learn more about Xilis, visit www.Xilis.com

Story originally published on Duke Translation & Commercialization

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