X-ZELL Inc. gearing up for biggest year yet
Sunnyvale/ Bangkok, January 2018 – Following a “wildly successful” final quarter of 2017, X-ZELL Inc. CEO, Dr Sebastian Chakrit Punyaratabandhu Bhakdi, is confident that 2018 will be the rare cell detection start-up’s biggest year yet.
“X-ZELL Inc. has made remarkable progress since we came out of Research Mode in July last year, with Q4 generating a lot of positive momentum for the year to come,” he explained. “The successful soft launch of X-ZELL Prostate™ (the world’s first liquid biopsy capable of routinely detecting Circulating Endothelial Cells, or CEC, in a small blood sample) in December marked a major milestone for the company, as did our latest commercial partnership with Naresuan University, which is now using our patented platform technology across multiple research projects.”
Dr Bhakdi added that X-ZELL also launched a landmark breast cancer study in the last quarter of 2017, which, in combination with growing interest in X-ZELL Prostate™, has created “a genuine buzz” in the market and saw the company’s laboratory output skyrocket.
What’s more, Q4’17 also saw the historic reveal of the first-ever image of a giant, tumor-derived Circulating Endothelial Cell (CEC) isolated and stained using X-ZELL’s patented rare cell detection technology.
“So much has happened in the briefest period of time, and yet it’s only just the beginning,” the company’s Thailand-based CEO shared. “We have a lot more in store for 2018 and beyond, both scientifically and commercially.”
According to Dr Bhakdi, X-ZELL’s 400-patient breast cancer detection study – carried out in collaboration with Professor Dr Pornchai O-Charoenrat, Chief of the Department of Head, Neck and Breast Surgery at Mahidol University’s renowned Siriraj Hospital – is making rapid progress, with preliminary results expected to be published as early as February.
The company’s first breast cancer detection test – to be named X-ZELL Breast™ – is slated to go on sale via Siriraj Hospital immediately after the final publication, which is expected to come out in Q2’18.
A comprehensive ASEAN launch of X-ZELL’s prostate cancer test, X-ZELL Prostate™, is reportedly also on the cards in 2018, with Dr Bhakdi revealing the company is in “advanced talks” to launch an international multi-centre study to broaden the test’s reach and applicability.
With two products close to commercialisation and a plethora of research underway, Dr Bhakdi also indicated that X-ZELL’s long-awaited Series A round may take place in the second half of 2018.
“Traction is building fast and the results of our research are promising to say the least, so there is every chance X-ZELL will be make the next step in 2018 and seek Series A funding. It’s an exciting time for the business, but even more so for the millions of people seeking diagnostic clarity.”
Established in 2009 with investment from Vichit Suraphongchai – one of the leading figures in Southeast Asian banking – and material support from Thailand’s premier science university, Mahidol University, X-ZELL Inc. started out as a classic university spin-off.
It is the brainchild of Dr Sebastian Chakrit Punyaratabandhu Bhakdi, a German-Thai physician who was working in Bangkok on a fellowship from the German Research Foundation (GFR) when he came across a new way of magnetically separating malaria cells from a blood sample. Upon conclusion of his research, Dr Bhakdi continued to refine the technology and successfully applied it to cancer cell detection, which eventually led to the creation of X-ZELL Inc. The young company’s international breakthrough then came at Y Combinator’s W15 Winter Batch in early 2016, where it showcased a new way of reliably detecting ultra-rare CEC at an early stage – allowing physicians to diagnose malign cancer when it is still treatable. X-ZELL Inc. completed the program with a rare Honourable Mention and seed investment by various Silicon Valley-based angel investors, among them US start-up guru, Paul Buchheit – the creator and lead developer of Gmail. After returning to Bangkok, Dr Bhakdi fast-tracked the company’s corporate evolution with the opening of X-ZELL Inc.’s first overseas office in Sunnyvale, California, and the recruitment of key investor and COO, Johannes Hille, in early 2017. Since then, the company has launched myriad research projects and successfully brought its first commercial cancer test, X-ZELL Prostate™, to market in the Kingdom of Thailand.