Q&A with Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH

MEDIA 7 | June 13, 2019

Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH is an experienced businessman who has worked in many countries. He has dedicated more than 10 years to the intuitive method of language acquisition called the “Birkenbihl Approach” formulated by Vera F. Birkenbihl.  Emil and Vera have worked together on the digitalization of this language acquisition method which has been incorporated into Emil's language-learning platform, Brain-Friendly. 

In this interesting Q&A, Emil takes us through the Birkinbihl approach which is helping users worldwide to learn languages with ease.

MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us about your background?
EMIL BRUNNER:
 I started as a technician; then I changed to sales. In my heart, I’ve always been a salesman. I started my business as the first Xerox Partner in Austria, and then I managed a company selling office machines and equipment. It was my first time going into other countries, like Germany and Switzerland. In that business, I worked with many phone agents, so the company grew to an outbound sales call center. In the USA, I had my first technology experience and built an automated call machine. We then got the franchise partner of RTL Teleshop - it was after QVC the second largest in DACH, for Austria.  I gained knowledge in TV-Power plus Sales power and found it fascinating. The next step was to automate the call center.

In 2004, we ran a call center in a pizza box (computer) for teleshop companies. In the States, we closed orders for up to 60% of callers fully automated, the rest were connected to the classical human call center. It had a great future, but I did it with the wrong people. So the company went bankrupt, and we went back to Austria.
After that experience, back "home" - felt so small, and we went on to start a software development business.
I began working and studying TV & Film making at the same time. My master's degree was a documentary film about "Teleshop and new technologies.”

I met Vera F. Birkenbihl, and she was one of the most successful scientists for learning methods and strategies and held a lot of live seminars - long before TEDx came up. I produced about 10 of those seminars, gaining many skills in the process, and that's when I found out about the language learning method. Me and language? I had trouble all the time while I went to school. I was sure languages were not for me. However, my son was a successful young developer and was interested and started to develop an app for language learning - using the brain-friendly Birkenbihl method. Which means, you never waste time cramming vocabulary and you don't need to learn any grammar rules.

I don't know anyone who’s happy learning vocabulary. About 90+% of all people using a language (mother tongue and foreign language) are not able to describe a grammar rule — only the teachers can do it. So there must be another way without the pain. And here it was!
I tried to learn English. The goal was to speak well without thinking about what to say. I just wanted to talk.

That's it. It took me more than a year, but I had an experience I’ll never forget. I was working on my phone with many customers and collecting orders. After a while, I put the orders from my notes into the computer. Wow! I had made a request for English courses - an order from a bookstore in Birmingham. How did I do it? Yes, I did it in English, and I didn't even realize it. It was automatic. The gap, switching from German to English, was gone - forever.

In the meantime, both my sons, Herwig and Gerwin, were now professionals in software development on the international stage. I had a Swiss partner and last year, I sold my shares to set up a new company with a new app - the Birkenbihl language learning movies. The digitalization of language learning - watch a movie and get the language. Based on subscription models, we sell it now in DACH, US, and European Single markets.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning, that I am the only one, who got the okay from Vera F.Birkenbihl (she died 2011), to follow the method of the new science of language learning and take it to the next level. I got the seal of approval for the "Birkenbihl Approach" to honor products they follow with the principle of "brain-friendly" learning method.

I have put all of this experience into a new book, the follow up of Birkenbihl's bestseller "Einfach Sprachen Lernen". I completed it with Katharina Rucker, she has been on board since 2008 and is still the best blogger for language learning knowledge. The book will be published in English in Q1-2020.

"Using the brain-friendly Birkenbihl method, you never waste time cramming vocabulary and you don't need to learn any grammar rules."



M7: How far is the Birkenbihl method’s idea of ‘learning a language need not be difficult’ serving its purpose of making language acquisition effortless?
EB:
 Let me say 100%. Because the "classical" way to learn a language is totally different from the way our brain works. Our brain is trying to find new things to discover, to get new experiences and so on. What is there to discover when you use a vocabulary list? For example, table - Tisch / table - la mesa, etc. it could also be shown as table - Katze (cat). There is no sense, no meaning, no context.

If you learn it the brain-friendly way as a full sentence, and you "de-code" it, your brain has enough context, and there are new words to learn. 

So it works, and it takes a minimum amount of time because our brain is memorizing everything in connections, like synapses, and that works very well, making it fun and available to use for the rest of your life.
The newest thing we have developed is the Movie(c) courses. Birkenbihl told us all the time, "a movie is the closest experience to real life". Watching a movie is like experiencing an actual event. 

When the "de-code line" is integrated into the movie,  entertainment and learning become cohesive. The "de-code line" in the movie, works as a karaoke player. The spoken word-pair is synchronized and highlighted. So you can close your eyes or your brain will automatically follow the decode line, and you will absorb the language. Repeat it, and you become perfect. It’s the digital way to learn a foreign language.

M7: How do you develop the movies and what is the approach for making users learn new languages easily with these movies?
EB: 
The classical way to learn a language is to cram grammar rules. Understanding and speaking are two processes in our brain that we have to learn separately. The idea developed by Birkenbihl was to find out how to use the mother tongue to understand a foreign language. She had done a lot of research and observed neuroscientists and decided to call the it the decode line which means you have two decoding lines – the upper line is the foreign language that you want to learn, the lower line is the word-by-word translation where you get the information about the meaning of the words.
It’s easy to follow them if you like to follow, but it’s enough if you just watch the movie. Your brain is automatically looking at the decode line and getting the information so if you repeat that you become more familiar with the sentence and you’ll understand it.

M7: How has your working with Vera F. Birkenbihl for more than 10 years helped you to come out with an intuitive method of language acquisition called the “Birkenbihl Approach”? What was the idea behind this?
EB: 
Birkenbihl told me that she’d had an experience with teachers and children. The problem was that the children didn’t enjoy learning vocabulary. It was, and still is, a pain. After a couple of days, all of the learned words go. So she thought, if most people have this problem then the problem couldn't be the people, it must be the method. There must be a better way.

After that, she started researching, and she found old documents, detailing how the aristocrats (the European marriage expansion) learned languages. There were many connections between the European Aristocrats, and this old document described how they learned. There was a transcript, a direct translation underneath and a live speaker. So the learners followed the speaker and read the word pairs.

All of the experiments she did, worked very well. I remember, it was approximately 2008, there was a teacher in Odelzhause who gave the children private English lessons Coached by Birkenbihl, in 3 months, the whole class were able to speak English very well and had no problem with vocabulary tests. That was the point we realized we were onto something. Based on our findings, my son built the first application for Windows. However, if you think that’s it, no. It took a lot of time to optimize it and to do all the beta tests. But after a while, we saw that it worked, and my experience was. WOW! - I got it.


"Watching a movie is like experiencing an actual event.   When the "de-code line" is integrated into the movie,  entertainment and learning become cohesive."


M7: How is the “Birkenbihl Approach” assisting people around the world to learn more languages efficiently?
EB:
Thanks, that’s an excellent question. You can do it, totally without any app, with paper or music. Take the lyrics of the song you love and start to “de-code” (translate it word-by-word). Yes, with the app, it’s much easier, and if you have a device ready, you can fit, learning a language, into every spare moment you have. So you waste no time, get entertained and learn simultaneously. After a while, you begin to speak automatically like a baby, who is listening for a long time.
When it becomes a year old, it starts with some words, after the second year it begins, from one day to the next to speak full sentences, only by listening. So while you improve upon your spelling skills, in your mother tongue or foreign language, always listen (day and night) in the background. Your sub-conscience will do the rest.
It is a kind of democratization of language learning; everybody can do it, independent of age or origin.

M7: You have played a vital role in digitalization of this language acquisition method. What inspired you to take up this challenge and what was your vision behind this?
EB:
Yes, first, it was a curiosity about the possibility and a challenge for myself to learn a language up to a level to be able to sell anything. Remember, I was a weak student.
Additionally, it was the feedback from the first beta tester, later from customers that they had the same experience I had, and they are now happy and successful.  So it was sensible. Yes, a little bit also to make it easier for people. So now, I see that the end of the traditional way to learn a language is coming.

Think about it... you can watch a movie, it doesn't matter which one, and you get automatically delivered the “de-code” line. I think we'll be able to get it in the near future, we are still working on it. So you don't need any teacher, because every child is learning it like their mother tongue, additionally. For example, a Hollywood movie uses about 1000 to 1500 unique words, a daily newspaper uses about 500 to 700 unique words. So let's watch Spanish movies this weekend, and that's it. My idea is that no child should have to suffer the cramming of vocabulary.


"While you grow up your spelling skills, in your mother tongue or foreign language, always listen in the background. Your sub-conscience will do the rest. It is a kind of democratization of language learning."



M7: As a language instructor, how important is resolving the problem of language acquisition as a barrier to businesses and marketing when globalization is the trend?
EB: It is vital. In two cases, one of them is, that companies spend a lot of money, year by year and nothing is changing. The costs go up, and success is equal to or less. Especially the production industries who have many difficulties, i.e. when the company is based in Germany, and the production is in Mexico. In this case, we can help. We can produce a learning movie for the technical process and add the “de-code line”, so the employees get both, the knowledge and the language. I think this is an excellent opportunity for all instructors and trainers of language. They can supply companies to work with the Birkenbihl method, and it gives more success with less time to spend. 

M7: Do you think that the Birkenbihl method will encourage more people around the world to learn languages swiftly?
EB:
Yes, that's what I hope, and it is essential to tell everybody that with this method it is possible, yes it works. Also, my hope is that it could connect people and bring more happiness. It's okay, if you start now and only spend 10 minutes every day. After approximately 6 weeks, you will get about 400 to 600 unique words. However, you can also do it in 2 weeks if you spend 10 minutes, 10 times a day (less than 2 hours). Alternatively, if you spend only 10 minutes every 3rd day, it takes a little longer. Do it when you want with the time that suits you. Overall, you get it.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
EB:
Not much, except one thing: Whatever you do, if it doesn't work, find out how it could work, there is surely another way. But, just do it.

ABOUT BRAIN FRIENDLY

The Birkenbihl Approach (BBA) means, learning as the brain loves to learn. Our brain - look to the minds of children - how they like to discover and to understand how things work. It uses neuro mechanisms like abstracting rules (grammar) and background listening (to build synapses for spelling). To know more, visit Brain-Friendly.

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Xilio Therapeutics to Host Live Virtual Program Spotlighting XTX301, a Tumor-Activated IL-12

Xilio Therapeutics, Inc. | November 28, 2022

Xilio Therapeutics, Inc. a biotechnology company developing tumor-activated immuno-oncology therapies for people living with cancer, announced that the company will host a live virtual program on Thursday, December 1, 2022, at 12:30 p.m. ET spotlighting Xilio’s clinical-stage molecule XTX301, a tumor-activated, engineered IL-12. The event will feature Diwakar Davar, MBBS, M.Sc., a key opinion leader and assistant professor of medicine and a medical oncologist/hematologist from UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Davar will discuss the unmet medical need in treating patients with immunologically “cold” advanced solid tumors and the differences between “cold” and “hot” tumors in the tumor microenvironment as well as the potential for IL-12 as a compelling immunotherapy target across tumor types due to its ability to activate both the innate and adaptive immune system. Xilio executives René Russo, Pharm.D., chief executive officer, Marty Huber, M.D., president and head of R&D, and Uli Bialucha, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, will discuss the company’s clinical-stage molecule, XTX301, a unique tumor-activated, engineered IL-12 designed to potently stimulate anti-tumor immunity and reprogram the TME of poorly immunogenic “cold” tumors towards an inflamed state, while limiting systemic toxicity. The Xilio team will also cover the adaptive design for the planned Phase 1 trial for XTX301 and anticipated clinical development timeline. Webcast Information To register in advance for the webcast, please click here. A live webcast of the event will also be available under “Events and Presentations” in the Investors & Media section of Xilio’s. Diwakar Davar, MBBS, M.Sc. Dr. Davar is an assistant professor of medicine and a medical oncologist/hematologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. He specializes in the management of advanced melanoma and the development of early phase studies to test novel immunotherapeutic approaches to treat advanced cancers. Dr. Davar is board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. He received his medical degree from National University of Singapore, and he completed both his residency and fellowship at UPMC. Dr. Davar is a member of many professional organizations, including the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Allegheny County Medical Society, American College of Physicians, and Singapore Medical Association. About XTX301, a Tumor-Activated, Engineered IL-12 XTX301 is an investigational tumor-activated, engineered IL-12 molecule designed to potently stimulate anti-tumor immunity and reprogram the TME of poorly immunogenic “cold” tumors towards an inflamed state. IL-12 plays a key role in bridging innate and adaptive cellular immunity, making it a compelling target for immunotherapy. However, life-threatening toxicity observed with systemically active IL-12, including severe liver toxicity, have limited the therapeutic potential of IL-12 agents. In November 2022, Xilio announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the company’s investigational new drug application for the evaluation of XTX301 as a potential treatment for patients with advanced solid tumors. About the Planned Phase 1 Clinical Trial for XTX301 The planned Phase 1 clinical trial for XTX301 is a first-in-human, multi-center, open-label trial designed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of XTX301 as a monotherapy in patients with advanced solid tumors. About Xilio Therapeutics Xilio Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company discovering and developing tumor-activated immuno-oncology therapies with the goal of significantly improving outcomes for people living with cancer without the systemic side effects of current I-O treatments. The company is using its proprietary platform to build a pipeline of novel, tumor-activated molecules, including cytokines and other biologics, which are designed to optimize their therapeutic index and localize anti-tumor activity within the tumor microenvironment. Xilio is currently advancing multiple programs for tumor-activated I-O treatments in clinical development, as well as programs in preclinical development.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Biocytogen Enters into Antibody Agreement with ADC Therapeutics

Biocytogen | November 28, 2022

Biocytogen Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd. announced that it has entered into an evaluation and option agreement with ADC Therapeutics SA. Biocytogen will grant ADC Therapeutics a license to evaluate Biocytogen’s proprietary antibodies against three tumor targets, with an option to license selected antibodies at a later date for global ADC development and commercialization. Biocytogen reserves all global rights for these antibodies beyond ADC development. Biocytogen will receive an upfront payment. For each option exercised, Biocytogen will be entitled to an option-exercise fee, and development and commercial milestone payments, which potentially total tens of millions of US dollars, as well as single-digit royalties on net sales. Under the agreement, Biocytogen will provide ADC Therapeutics with monoclonal and/or biparatopic antibodies directed against three tumor targets, generated through Biocytogen’s Project Integrum. ADC Therapeutics will carry out feasibility studies and be responsible for further development and commercialization of the ADC products if the company exercises an option. “ADC Therapeutics is a leader in the development and commercialization of ADCs. We believe this collaboration with ADC Therapeutics will underscore the value of Biocytogen’s proprietary antibody discovery and screening platforms. We’ve been dedicated to expanding the possibilities of antibody-based therapeutics in disease treatment, through the exploration of new types of targets and modalities through Project Integrum. The combination of Biocytogen’s strength in antibody development with ADC Therapeutics’ expertise and track record in payload and linker technology may lead to the generation of novel ADC medicines for unmet medical needs in the future.” Dr. Yuelei Shen, President and CEO of Biocytogen “We are pleased to enter this collaboration with Biocytogen as we continue expanding our toolbox to realize the full potential of our ADC platform,” said Patrick van Berkel, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of ADC Therapeutics. “We look forward to evaluating the fully human antibodies from Biocytogen’s proprietary discovery platform, which have the potential to accelerate the development of our novel ADCs.” About Biocytogen Biocytogen is a global biotechnology company that drives the research and development of novel antibody-based drugs with innovative technologies. Using its proprietary RenMabTM /RenLite® mice platforms for fully human monoclonal and bispecific antibody development, Biocytogen has integrated its in vivo drug efficacy screening platforms and strong clinical development expertise to streamline the entire drug development process. Biocytogen is undertaking a large-scale project to develop first-in-class and/or best-in-class antibody drugs for more than 1000 targets, known as Project Integrum. This project has resulted in 28 drug co-development agreements and 16 RenMiceTM licensing agreements with companies around the world, including several partnerships with multinational pharmaceutical companies (MNCs). The company's pipeline includes 12 core products, among which two products are in phase II multi-regional clinical trials and two products are in phase I. Headquartered in Beijing, Biocytogen has branches in Haimen Jiangsu, Shanghai, Boston, USA and Heidelberg, Germany. About ADC Therapeutics ADC Therapeutics is a commercial-stage biotechnology company improving the lives of those affected by cancer with its next-generation, targeted antibody drug conjugates. The Company is advancing its proprietary PBD-based ADC technology to transform the treatment paradigm for patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. ADC Therapeutics’ CD19-directed ADC ZYNLONTA is approved by the FDA for the treatment of relapsed or refractory diffuse large b-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy. ZYNLONTA is also in development in combination with other agents. In addition to ZYNLONTA, ADC Therapeutics has multiple ADCs in ongoing clinical and preclinical development.

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MEDICAL

Cajal Neuroscience Launches with $96 Million to Transform Target and Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration

Cajal Neuroscience | November 30, 2022

Cajal Neuroscience, a biotechnology company integrating human genetics, functional genomics and advanced microscopy to discover novel targets and therapeutics for neurodegeneration, launched today with the completion of a $96 million Series A financing. Cajal is uniquely focused on the mechanistic, spatial and temporal complexity of neurodegeneration, integrating deep expertise in neuroscience, neuroanatomy and computational biology with state-of-the-art technologies for high-throughput functional validation. The financing was led by The Column Group and Lux Capital, with additional participation from Two Sigma Ventures, Bristol Myers Squibb, Evotec, Alexandria Venture Investments, Dolby Family Ventures and other investors. “We’ve all seen the challenges that face drug discovery in neurodegeneration. Cajal was founded to meet those challenges head-on by convening some of the best minds in the field and integrating a suite of cutting-edge technologies to identify and advance therapies for neurodegeneration in a completely new way. I truly believe our approach can revolutionize neurodegeneration drug discovery by understanding disease mechanisms with spatial and temporal resolution at unprecedented scale,” Ignacio Muñoz-Sanjuán, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer at Cajal “We want to get to the ground truth of neurodegenerative diseases. Cajal was started from grassroots, bringing together an incredible team of scientists, advisors and investors who share the long-term vision of building foundational systems to explore new pathways and targets and making a difference for patients suffering from neurodegeneration,” said Rob Hershberg, M.D., Ph.D., Co-founder and Executive Chairman of the Board at Cajal. Inspired by the pioneering work of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, whose discoveries on the structural and functional organization of the brain became the foundation of modern neuroscience, Cajal seeks to transform the field of neurodegeneration by revealing the complex and dynamic mechanisms driving disease. Cajal’s platform combines state-of-the-art approaches and technologies, including integrative human genetics and multi-omics, highly multiplexed functional genomics and industrialized whole brain imaging. Through this approach, Cajal is systematically validating the thousands of targets implicated in diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and creating a comprehensive understanding of neurodegeneration that reveals how, where and when different mechanisms contribute to disease. “The legendary neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal said that all outstanding work, in art as well as science, results from immense zeal applied to a great idea. That’s precisely why we raced to fund this team,” said Josh Wolfe, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Lux Capital. “When you get the rare combination of the leading scientific minds in neuroscience teaming up to work with cutting-edge visualization, sequencing and computational techniques, and to apply a never-before taken approach to discovering targets and drugs for neurodegenerative disease, you don’t walk slowly toward it -- you sprint for your life.” Cajal’s leadership team includes world-class scientists and experienced biotechnology entrepreneurs who bring scientific rigor, drug development expertise and commitment to advancing therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. About Cajal Neuroscience Cajal Neuroscience is a biotechnology company committed to discovering novel therapeutics for neurodegeneration by leveraging a powerful platform designed to reveal the mechanistic, spatial and temporal complexity of disease at unprecedented scale. Cajal combines a suite of state-of-the-art approaches and technologies, including integrative human genetics and multi-omics, high-throughput functional genomics and advanced microscopy, to accelerate neurodegeneration target and drug discovery. Cajal is headquartered in Seattle, WA.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Xilio Therapeutics to Host Live Virtual Program Spotlighting XTX301, a Tumor-Activated IL-12

Xilio Therapeutics, Inc. | November 28, 2022

Xilio Therapeutics, Inc. a biotechnology company developing tumor-activated immuno-oncology therapies for people living with cancer, announced that the company will host a live virtual program on Thursday, December 1, 2022, at 12:30 p.m. ET spotlighting Xilio’s clinical-stage molecule XTX301, a tumor-activated, engineered IL-12. The event will feature Diwakar Davar, MBBS, M.Sc., a key opinion leader and assistant professor of medicine and a medical oncologist/hematologist from UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Davar will discuss the unmet medical need in treating patients with immunologically “cold” advanced solid tumors and the differences between “cold” and “hot” tumors in the tumor microenvironment as well as the potential for IL-12 as a compelling immunotherapy target across tumor types due to its ability to activate both the innate and adaptive immune system. Xilio executives René Russo, Pharm.D., chief executive officer, Marty Huber, M.D., president and head of R&D, and Uli Bialucha, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, will discuss the company’s clinical-stage molecule, XTX301, a unique tumor-activated, engineered IL-12 designed to potently stimulate anti-tumor immunity and reprogram the TME of poorly immunogenic “cold” tumors towards an inflamed state, while limiting systemic toxicity. The Xilio team will also cover the adaptive design for the planned Phase 1 trial for XTX301 and anticipated clinical development timeline. Webcast Information To register in advance for the webcast, please click here. A live webcast of the event will also be available under “Events and Presentations” in the Investors & Media section of Xilio’s. Diwakar Davar, MBBS, M.Sc. Dr. Davar is an assistant professor of medicine and a medical oncologist/hematologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. He specializes in the management of advanced melanoma and the development of early phase studies to test novel immunotherapeutic approaches to treat advanced cancers. Dr. Davar is board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. He received his medical degree from National University of Singapore, and he completed both his residency and fellowship at UPMC. Dr. Davar is a member of many professional organizations, including the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Allegheny County Medical Society, American College of Physicians, and Singapore Medical Association. About XTX301, a Tumor-Activated, Engineered IL-12 XTX301 is an investigational tumor-activated, engineered IL-12 molecule designed to potently stimulate anti-tumor immunity and reprogram the TME of poorly immunogenic “cold” tumors towards an inflamed state. IL-12 plays a key role in bridging innate and adaptive cellular immunity, making it a compelling target for immunotherapy. However, life-threatening toxicity observed with systemically active IL-12, including severe liver toxicity, have limited the therapeutic potential of IL-12 agents. In November 2022, Xilio announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the company’s investigational new drug application for the evaluation of XTX301 as a potential treatment for patients with advanced solid tumors. About the Planned Phase 1 Clinical Trial for XTX301 The planned Phase 1 clinical trial for XTX301 is a first-in-human, multi-center, open-label trial designed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of XTX301 as a monotherapy in patients with advanced solid tumors. About Xilio Therapeutics Xilio Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company discovering and developing tumor-activated immuno-oncology therapies with the goal of significantly improving outcomes for people living with cancer without the systemic side effects of current I-O treatments. The company is using its proprietary platform to build a pipeline of novel, tumor-activated molecules, including cytokines and other biologics, which are designed to optimize their therapeutic index and localize anti-tumor activity within the tumor microenvironment. Xilio is currently advancing multiple programs for tumor-activated I-O treatments in clinical development, as well as programs in preclinical development.

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