GERMANTOWN, Md., December 19, 2023 – Deka Biosciences (“Deka”) today announced the appointments of Stanley Frankel, M.D., FACP, as senior clinical advisor, interim chief medical officer and scientific advisory board member, and Stuart Chaffee, Ph.D. as an independent director and chairman of the Board. Deka is a privately held biotech company developing next-generation cytokine therapies to treat cancer and inflammatory diseases based on a patient’s individual immune response. Deka’s lead asset, DK210 (EGFR), is currently being evaluated for the treatment of multiple solid tumors in a Phase 1 clinical trial.
“With today’s leadership and corporate governance appointments, our team is well positioned to capitalize on the power of our platform’s ability to modulate multiple cytokine signaling pathways in a single therapeutic agent and in a patient-selective manner,” said John Mumm, president and chief executive officer. “Dr. Frankel is a highly regarded drug developer who has led the research and commercialization of several important immunotherapies that are foundational to the field. We are also delighted to welcome Dr. Chaffee, an accomplished financial and operational leader, who will be instrumental in helping to guide our business and financial decision-making as we progress our novel therapeutics into the clinic.”
Dr. Frankel joins Deka as a hematologist-oncologist with over 20 years of industry experience, including the research, clinical development, and commercialization of immuno-oncology and cellular therapies. He was previously senior vice president, global drug development for cell therapy at BMS following the acquisition of Celgene to oversee the filing and development of Breyanzi® (lisocabtagene maraleucel) and Abecma® (idecabtagene vicleucel). Prior to BMS’ acquisition of Celgene, he was corporate vice president and the head of Immuno-Oncology & Cellular Therapy and Clinical Research and Development at Celgene, where he oversaw the clinical development collaborations for the Medimmune/AstraZeneca alliance for durvalumab, Celgene’s alliances with BeiGene for tislelizumab, and with Juno Therapeutics for development of cell-based therapies. Previously, he oversaw T-cell engager bispecific antibody development as vice president of clinical development at Micromet, including the development of Blincyto® (blinatumomab). He also served as Chief Medical Officer of Cytovia Therapeutics. He is a non-executive director at Precision Biosciences and a member of the board of directors at Myeloid Therapeutics. He serves on the scientific advisory board at Sutro Biopharma, Immunai,
and Adagene. Dr. Frankel is also an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, New York. Dr. Frankel is a graduate of Harvard College and Northwestern University Medical School.
“Widespread clinical use of cytokines has been hindered by persisting challenges with short blood half-lives, safe immune activation, and severe side effects caused by low specificity and unfavorable biodistribution,” said Dr. Frankel. “Deka’s Diakine™ platform combining multiple cytokines in a single drug is a promising approach to improve the therapeutic index and clinical value of this medication class. I’m inspired by the underlying science of the platform and look forward to advancing these potentially game-changing medicines for cancer and inflammatory diseases alongside the leadership team.”
Dr. Chaffee brings over 20 years of R&D, business, and corporate development experience to Deka. Most recently, he served as the chief business officer and chief financial officer of Praxis Precision Medicines. Dr. Chaffee’s business-building background in drug discovery and development includes his role as entrepreneur in residence at Atlas Venture, where he was co-founder and head of business operations at Kymera Therapeutics. Earlier in his career, Dr. Chaffee served in several roles at Biogen across finance, business development, program leadership, and corporate strategy. Dr. Chaffee received a BS in chemistry from The College of William and Mary, a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Yale University, and an MBA in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
“I’ve always been a firm believer in the power of cytokine biology; however, the field has been challenged by an inability to tailor the right cytokine modulation to the right patient. Deka’s uniquely elegant approach has the potential to solve this problem,” said Dr. Chaffee.