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Asian Fund for Cancer Research Announces Inaugural 2020 BRACE Award Venture Competition Winner

Gastrointestinal Cancer Drug Developer Arbele Receives AFCR Investment Funding

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HONG KONG – Arbele has been selected as the winner of the Asian Fund for Cancer Research’s (AFCR) inaugural BRACE Award Venture Competition, a first of its kind program for early stage oncology technology companies located in Asia or focused on cancers prevalent among Asian communities. As a result of its win, the Hong Kong-based company has received US$300,000 in AFCR investment.

Arbele’s BRACE Award Venture Competition win is the result of a rigorous review and evaluation process led by two blue ribbon committees convened by AFCR. One committee, in fall 2020, judged the start-up and its tumor-fighting technology as among the strongest of eight semi-finalists in a 6 November event; and the other committee, in winter 2020/2021, determined the company as most likely to make a difference for cancer patients and produce a positive return on investment from among the prior-chosen finalists.

BRACE Award Venture Competition winners can apply AFCR’s investment toward performing critical research and obtaining pre-clinical or clinical trial results which, in turn, will help to attract larger, follow-on investors. Such benefits give participating start-ups a much better chance of delivering technologies likely and able to benefit cancer patients. While future positive returns to AFCR on its US$300,000 investment will be applied by the non-profit organization toward its cancer research funding and education programming.

“The BRACE Award Venture Competition is making a real difference in funding not only early stage, risk-taking companies in Asia that are battling cancer, but also start-ups that are tackling Asia-prevalent forms of the disease,” stated Arbele Chief Executive Officer John Luk, DMedSc. “Arbele’s journey, including starting from invention at the University of Hong Kong and entering into clinical trials at Queen Mary Hospital, fits both criteria, and we look forward to continued partnership with AFCR.”

“It was a pleasure to represent Arbele throughout the BRACE Award Venture Competition process,” noted Chief Development Officer Dennis Wong, MD. “The program and its committees, investment and other benefits have already helped further develop our company and the application of our technology in the fight against cancer.”

“With the BRACE Award Venture Competition and infusion of investment into its winner, AFCR aims to raise awareness of the importance of accelerating commercialization of cancer research innovations that could save patients’ lives,” said Asian Fund for Cancer Research Chief Executive Officer Sujuan Ba, Ph.D. “We also hope to build up critically needed ecosystems helping life sciences entrepreneurs throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

“The BRACE Award Venture Competition is an important addition to our region’s cancer technology and biomedical industry environment, fostering ideas and approaches on the cutting edge of research,” expressed AFCR Chairman of the Board Gary Wong, a partner of Hugill & Ip Solicitors. “Few sources are willing to invest in high risk, pre-clinical start-ups and, through the BRACE program, our organization is proud to be in the lead.”

The National Foundation for Cancer Research and AIM-HI Accelerator Fund are founding partners of the BRACE Award Venture Competition. Inaugural partners are Hugill & Ip Solicitors, Goodwin and the Hong Kong Biotechnology Organization. Applications are now open for the 2021 iteration of the event, the winner of which will also receive US$300,000 in AFCR investment.

Learn more about the 2021 BRACE Award Venture Competition and apply before 15 June at

About the BRACE Award Venture Competition

The Bridging Research from Academia to Cancer Entrepreneurship (BRACE) program is designed to advance and catalyze the commercialization of innovative cancer research discoveries by early stage oncology technology companies located in Asia or focused on cancers prevalent among Asian communities. BRACE Award Venture Competitions provide start-up companies with a combination of investment capital, prize money, exposure-generating opportunities and enhanced access to a network of cancer industry professionals and researchers in the region and around the world. Two committees (judging and investment), whose members are world-class key opinion leaders, life sciences industry experts, investors and entrepreneurs, provide assessments and recommendations for the investment from AFCR. Its members include the following persons:

  • Webster Cavenee, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Alliances, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
  • Pamela Garzone, Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, Calibr at Scripps Research
  • Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., Paul C. Cabot Professor of Genetics and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Brian Leyland-Jones, M.B., B.S., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, AIM-HI Accelerator Fund
  • Will Liu, Ph.D., Partner, Eight Roads Ventures
  • Eifion Phillips, Ph.D., J.D., Patent Attorney
  • Kanaga Sabapathy, Ph.D., Head, National Cancer Centre Singapore’s Division of Cellular and Molecular Research
  • Alfred Slanetz, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Geneius Biotechnology
  • Michael Wang, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, Chief Strategy Officer, National Foundation for Cancer Research
  • Yajun Xu, Ph.D., Managing Partner, Hongsen Capital
  • Wai-Kwan Alfred Yung, M.D., Professor, MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Neuro-Oncology

About the Asian Fund for Cancer Research

The Asian Fund for Cancer Research (AFCR) is a non-profit organization committed to curing cancers that have significant impacts on Asian populations. Headquartered in Hong Kong, AFCR is uniquely positioned to implement in Asia the newest cancer research discoveries and technologies from around the world, investigate the distinct causes of cancer in Asian populations through innovative genetic and molecular research, and develop more effective therapies tailored to the region’s cancer patients. For more information, visit

About Hugill & Ip Solicitors

Hugill & Ip Solicitors is an independent law firm providing bespoke legal advice and exceptional client service to individuals, families, entrepreneurs and businesses, in Hong Kong and internationally. Hugill & Ip provides high quality legal services with integrity, professionalism and respect for clients and the community. For more information, visit

About Arbele

Arbele, based in Hong Kong and with operations also in Guangzhou, Seattle and Sydney, is a biopharmaceutical company focused on inventing proprietary immunotherapeutic platforms to accelerate the development of treatments for gastrointestinal cancers and other solid tumors. It is developing “first-in-class” antibody-based biologics to treat such cancers as those of the stomach, pancreas, colon, bile duct and liver, which remain of high mortality and with limited treatment options. For more information, visit