DotBio launches focusing on immuno-oncology drugs

Newly formed company raises $2.3 million seed financing to complete validation studies of optimised, humanised domain antibodies and explore broad applicability of DotBody technology

DotBio, a new company focused on the development of novel immuno-oncology drugs based on humanised domain antibodies, has officially launched and has successfully raised US$2.3 million in seed financing led by the HeungKong Group via Futec Biomedical Investments.

DotBio is an independent biotechnology company that has spun out from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

DotBio aims to develop a broad pipeline of drug candidates to address the pressing need for new oncology treatments based on its proprietary DotBody technology. DotBodies are domain therapeutic antibodies, which are multi-specific, humanised and highly-stable.

As a result of their small size, domain antibodies benefit from superior tumor penetration and can be used as building blocks for multi-specific antibodies.

DotBodies are optimised by a unique proprietary technology that improves antibody stability, reduces aggregation and lowers the risk of immunogenicity – increasing the probability of their success in clinical trials.

The higher stability and small size of DotBodies make them highly modular, allowing rapid optimisation of pharmacokinetics, multi-valency and multi-specificity.

DotBio was founded by Professor Pär Nordlund, a structural biologist at NTU and Karolinska Institute, who has pioneered strategies to define cancer drug mechanisms, and Dr Ignacio Asial, who designed and conceptualised the DotBody technology based on his expertise in protein and antibody engineering at NTU’s School of Biological Sciences.

Dr Asial will lead DotBio as CEO and Dr Kelly Hew will serve as COO. Professor Nordlund will be scientific advisor to the company.

Dr Asial, CEO, DotBio, commented: “This is an exciting time for us to launch DotBio, the potential of domain antibody technology to change the way we treat cancer is clear. Our focus is on applying the world-leading protein science expertise of our team to revolutionize multi-specific, CAR-T and ADC therapies, positioning DotBio as a leader in next-generation immuno-oncology drugs.”

As part of the spin-out agreement with NTU, DotBio will acquire the rights to the domain antibody technology through NTUitive - the university's innovation and enterprise company - as well as certain assets developed under a previous collaboration agreement between ASLAN Pharmaceuticals (ASLAN) and NTU.

NTU and ASLAN will take minority equity stakes in DotBio. Kingsley Leung, representing HeungKong Group and Carl Firth, CEO of ASLAN, will join the board of DotBio as non-executive directors.

The funds raised will enable DotBio to generate a number of therapeutic candidates and complete validation studies. In addition to agreed collaborations with NTU and Karolinska Institute, DotBio is establishing partnerships in industry and academia to advance DotBodies in clinical development.

DotBio’s current internal pipeline is focused on multi-specific immuno-oncology drugs targeting different checkpoint blockades, positive immune signals and tumor specific processes with several candidates planned to enter preclinical studies during 2018. The broad applicability of the DotBody technology will enable DotBio to consider other therapeutic areas on a case-by-case basis.

Professor Pär Nordlund, Co-founder of DotBio, added: “Multi-specific domain antibodies offer a more refined means to activate the antitumor immune response and to minimize adverse effects as compared to standard antibody-based combination therapies."

"It is our belief that DotBio´s powerful domain antibody technology uniquely positions the company to become a leader in next-generation multi-specific cancer therapies. The DotBody technology can also be applied to many other therapeutic areas and we look forward to opportunities to collaborate with industry partners and academia to realize the enormous potential of our technology.”