Prof Qi Zeng, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Qi Zeng, PhD is currently Research Director at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR), and an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Biochemistry of the National University of Singapore (NUS). She is the Founder of Intra-immuSG (IISG), an A*STAR spin-off Biotech company. IISG was listed as a top Asia Biotech company (GEN News, 2 May 2022).
Qi was trained as a Molecular and Cell Biologist in Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Buffalo, NY, USA) and National University Singapore. Her expertise is using animal models to study human diseases and cancers. She genetically engineered the First Transgenic Rat in Asia to study human diabetes, and her success story appeared in Fortune Magazine (USA, Oct. 1991). She identified PRL3 gene in 1998 (Zeng et al., BBRC). In 2001, Professor Vogelstein’s team from Johns Hopkins University first demonstrated a role of PRL3 gene in cancer progression and metastasis (Saha et al., Science 2001). PRL3 has been demonstrated to be a Pan-cancer target reported by global research laboratories. PRL3 oncoprotein was specifically overexpressed in multiple types of human tumors, yet undetectable in most normal tissues (Thura et al., Zeng, Nature Communications 2019). PRL3 is thus an excellent tumor specific antigen for targeted cancer therapy. PRL3 is an intracellular protein (inside cell). Traditionally, intracellular oncoproteins (such as PRL3 phosphatase) are targeted by small chemical inhibitors (chemotherapy), mainly because intracellular compartments are presumed to be inaccessible to large antibody drugs. However, as compared to chemotherapy, antibody therapy is more target specific, reducing off-target effects. Dr. Qi Zeng is the pioneer to propose a new concept of ‘Targeting Intracellular Oncoproteins with Antibody Therapy or Vaccinations’ as an unconventional cancer immunotherapy to inhibit cancer cells overexpressing PRL3 intracellular oncoprotein. To move from basic research findings to clinical settings, her team (www.qizenglab.com) developed PRL3-zumab, a First in Class humanized antibody approved by multi-national authorities: Singapore (HSA), USA (FDA), China (NMPA), Malaysia (NPRA) to perform Phase 2 Clinical Trials after completing Phase 1 excellent drug safety trial in NUH Singapore.
Mr Charles Tang
Chief Executive Officer
Mr Charles Tang is the CEO of IISG. He charts the growth of IISG and is actively involved in fundraising efforts for the company. Concurrently, he is the Founder and CEO of AP Technologies which focuses on innovating catheter and tubing manufacturing solutions to medical device companies. He has been in the management team at AP Technologies for ~10 years. His management expertise and business acumen have led him to clinch the highly coveted Emerging Enterprise Award in 2022. He received his B.Sc in Finance and Operations Management from Boston University (Questrom School of Business).
Dr Koon Hwee Ang (David), PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Koon Hwee Ang (David) is the Chief Operating Officer in IISG and a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (A*STAR). He is involved in the clinical trials of PRL3-zumab and research on the expanded utility of the drug and PRL3 target. This research effort enabled him to clinch the A*STAR Career Development Fund which supports PRL3 research beyond cancer. Additionally, he is pivoting to working on business strategies relevant to various assets in IISG. His strong interest in business in biotechnology is demonstrated by his participation in Oxford Biodesign short program (2018) and Novartis Biocamp in Basel (2013). Koon Hwee was a research fellow in Oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital (Harvard University). As an A*STAR National Science Scholarship recipient, he received his DPhil in Oncology at the University of Oxford.
Prof Lynne E. Maquat, PhD
Lynne E. Maquat, PhD is the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics who holds concomitant appointments in Pediatrics and in Oncology, Founding Director of the Center for RNA Biology, and Founding Chair of Graduate Women in Science at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA. After obtaining her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and undertaking post-doctoral work at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, she joined Roswell Park Cancer Institute before moving to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Dr. Maquat’s research focuses on the molecular basis of human diseases, with particular interest in mechanisms of mRNA decay. Maquat discovered nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in human diseases in 1981 and, subsequently, the exon-junction complex (EJC) and how the EJC marks mRNAs for a quality-control “pioneer” round of protein synthesis. She also discovered Staufen-mediated mRNA decay, which mechanistically competes with NMD and, by so doing, new roles for short interspersed elements and long non-coding RNAs. Additionally, she has defined a new mechanism by which microRNAs are degraded, thereby regulating mRNAs so as to promote the cell cycle. One of her current interests focuses on the development of therapeutics for diseases that she has shown manifest hyperactivated NMD, including the most common single gene cause of intellectual disability and autism, Fragile X Syndrome. Maquat is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006); an elected Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2006), the National Academy of Sciences (2011), and the National Academy of Medicine (2017); and a Batsheva de Rothschild Fellow of the Israel Academy of Sciences & Humanities (2012-3).
She was recently elected to the Council of Scientific Advisors for the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), an initiate of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (2022). She received the William C. Rose Award from the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (2014), a Canada Gairdner International Award (2015), the international RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award in Service (2010) and in Science (2017), the FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2018), the Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science (2017), the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences from Rockefeller University (2018), the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Medal (2019), the Wolf Prize in Medicine from Isreal (2021), the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize from Harvard Medical School (2021), and the Gruber Genetics Prize from the Gruber Foundation and Yale University (2023). Maquat is well-known for her national and international efforts to promote women in science.
Intra-ImmuSG Pte Ltd (IISG), is a Phase 2 clinical-stage biotechnology company developing several First-in-Class humanized antibody drugs as targeted immunotherapies to inhibit a broad range of common types of tumors overexpressing intracellular oncoproteins.
The story of IISG started in 1998 when our founder, a Research Director, Professor Qi Zeng, and her team (www.qizenglab.com) identified Phosphatase of Regenerating Liver 3 (PRL3) (Zeng et al., BBRC, 1998) in the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), a Research Institute (RI) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
In 2008, she proposed an unconventional concept of using antibody drugs (rather than small chemical compounds) to block tumors overexpressing intracellular oncoproteins. Based on the concept, PRL3-zumab was then generated to treat multiple (PRL3) positive cancers.
PRL3-zumab, our first Flagship drug, provides a totally new paradigm for immunotherapy to treat not only cancers, but also other human diseases associated with PRL3 overexpression. IISG has a rich pioneering platform with a strong clinical pipeline of humanized antibody drugs / vaccinations to meet urgent unmet medical needs and to offer new hope for hard-to-treat patients across the world.
In Dec 2015, with support from A*STAR, IISG was spun-off as a biotech company from A*STAR and founded by Professor Qi Zeng, a dedicated scientist with expertise in animal models and cancer biology. PRL3-zumab is a ‘Research Product’ derived from her team’s 20 years of intensive basic research and clinically-relevant animal models to treat cancers, followed by rigorous translational research and then moving into First in Man trials in 2017 after gaining approval from Health Sciences Authority (HSA) in Singapore.
From 2017-2018, PRL3-zumab completed Phase 1A and 1B Clinical Trials at the National University Hospital Singapore (NUHS). The study revealed the drug’s strong safety profile and early efficacy.
In 2019, PRL3-zumab commenced Phase 2 clinical trials for Gastric cancer and Hepatocellular carcinoma as advanced solid tumors at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) after obtaining approval from Health Sciences Authority (HSA), Singapore.
In 2020, PRL3-zumab Phase 2 clinical trials were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, and the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) in China for all solid tumors in a multi-center collaboration between IISG and several leading hospitals in the United States and in China respectively.
Please visit our “PRL3 phosphatase & cancer therapy lab”, IMCB, A*STAR in www.qizenglab.com