Indapta Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing a proprietary, first-in-class, off-the-shelf, non-engineered, allogeneic FcRγ-deficient natural killer (G-NK) cell therapy to treat multiple cancers, today announced the appointments of Lori Kunkel, M.D., as its Senior Clinical Advisor, Robert Sikorski, M.D., Ph.D., as its Founding Chief Medical Officer, and Jim Weiss as a member of its Board of Directors.
“I’m delighted to welcome these industry veterans to our team at this exciting time in Indapta’s evolution into the clinic,” said Guy DiPierro, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Indapta Therapeutis. “Lori and Bob bring vast and relevant clinical experience and strategic expertise to help shepherd Indapta through our clinical trials in multiple indications and phases of development.
Dr. Kunkel’s knowledge of oncology drug development and commercialization, along with Dr. Sikorski’s extensive cell therapy experience, will help accelerate our clinical programs in multiple cancer types. And Jim Weiss will bring data-driven digitally-based commercial strategy, marketing and communications savvy as product development and launches become increasingly virtual in the post pandemic landscape.”
Dr. Kunkel has more than two decades of experience in oncology and immunology drug development and commercialization. Previously, she was the acting Chief Medical Officer at Loxo Oncology, which was acquired by Eli Lilly, and subsequently served on the Board of Directors. Earlier, she served as Chief Medical Officer at Pharmacyclics, which was acquired by AbbVie, and at Proteolix, Inc., which was acquired by Onyx Pharmaceuticals, which in turn was acquired by Amgen, where she contributed to the global approvals of cancer therapeutics IMBRUVICA® and Kyprolis®.
Dr. Kunkel spent 10 years in academic medicine and served as a faculty member at the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Curis, Inc., Nurix Therapeutics, OricPharma and Maverick Therapeutics.
“Indapta’s promising preclinical data combined with its proprietary manufacturing process and its innovative management team is what drew me to the company,” said Dr. Kunkel. “I’m looking forward to working with Guy, the management team and Board members and applying my experience to position Indapta’s products in the current therapy regimen, design the clinical trials, work with the FDA, and help rapidly advance Indapta’s G-NK cell therapy through the clinic and too approval.”
Dr. Sikorski has extensive drug development experience, having most recently served as Chief Medical Officer at FivePrime Therapeutics, a public biotechnology company, where he led the development of a biologics pipeline that spanned preclinical discovery through proof of concept to pivotal trials. Previously, he led an early-stage clinical development group at Medimmune/AstraZeneca that advanced six novel molecules into clinical trials. He played a leading role in building Medimmune/AstraZeneca’s oncology portfolio through corporate partnering and acquisition efforts.
Earlier in his career, he led late-stage clinical development and post marketing efforts for several commercial drugs and drug candidates at Amgen. He began his career as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow and Visiting Scientist at the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus. Dr. Sikorski has served as an editor for Science and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“The team at Indapta has developed a novel and powerful allogeneic NK cell product and manufacturing process that could serve as a platform for multiple next-generation anti-cancer therapies,” said Dr. Sikorski. “I’m excited by the opportunity to bring this cutting-edge science to the treatment of cancer patients.”
Mr. Weiss has 30 years of experience in strategic media and marketing communications in the healthcare and technology sectors and has been involved in nearly every aspect of corporate, product and organizational communications. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of W2O, the leading independent provider of analytics-driven, digital-first marketing and communications to the healthcare sector.
During his career, Mr. Weiss has been recognized as one of the most influential people in health communications, receiving many accolades, including Top 50 Health Influencer and Top 25 Innovator in Communications. He began his career at Genentech during its formative commercial years. Mr. Weiss currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cancer Research Institute and The Commons Project and is an Advisory Board member of both the Newhouse School and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.
“Jim has advised me at numerous companies, from private to public, and from preclinical to commercial, driving value through key inflection points,” said Dov Goldstein, M.D., Chief Financial and Business Officer of Indapta. “A founder and owner of a company that has grown to include more than 1,500 employees, Jim understands how to scale and evolve a company through various stages of success. We know our efforts at Indapta will benefit from his insights while serving on our Board.”
Indapta Therapeutics is developing a universal, allogeneic G-NK cell therapy designed to substantially improve the cytotoxicity of monoclonal antibody therapy in multiple cancers. G-NK cells are a specific and potent subset of NK (natural killer) cells with specialized anti-tumor activity resulting from an epigenetic change, rather than engineering. Indapta has further enhanced G-NK cells via specific G-NK cell subset selection and its proprietary manufacturing process which, when combined, produce a G-NK cell therapy that demonstrates higher efficacy, persistence and enhanced cryopreservation than multiple monoclonal antibody therapies alone or monoclonal antibody therapies combined with conventional NK cells.
When a monoclonal antibody binds to the tumor target and to Indapta’s G-NK cell therapy product, it initiates the release of dramatically more cancer-killing compounds than conventional NK cells, allowing for increased efficacy and potentially less frequent dosing. Indapta’s off-the-shelf G-NK cell therapy is further differentiated from other NK cell therapies in that it is a cell banked product with low variability. In vivo studies have demonstrated the safety of Indapta’s G-NK cell therapy.