GERMANTOWN, Md., Nov. 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Maryland-based biotech company Deka Biosciences ("Deka") today announced that it has successfully closed a USD 20 Million Series A financing with a syndicate of life science investors led by Leaps by Bayer, the impact investment arm of Bayer AG, and new investor Lumira Ventures. Additional investors include O-Bio (Echo Investment Capital), Viva BioInnovator, and Alexandria Venture Investments.
Novel cytokine-based therapies have the potential to provide patients with innovative curative treatment options for cancer, autoimmune diseases, and many types of infectious diseases. Understanding the known function of each cytokine, Deka has developed Diakines™ – intentionally engineered therapeutic proteins that are designed to deliver clinically validated cytokines, coupled in combination in the Diakine™ structure, to diseased tissue. Deka has also combined this therapeutic platform with companion diagnostic assays that ensure delivery of each Diakine™ to patients that will benefit the most.
In Deka's Diakines™, the scaffold platform is derived from a human antibody fragment, called a single-chain variable fragment, that uniquely functions both as a stabilizing, half-life extension technology and a targeting vector to deliver the cytokine(s) function to specific cell types or the microenvironment of affected tissues. Through stabilization and improved manufacturing techniques, the Diakine™ scaffold increases production yields and reduces manufacturing costs, and the unique structure enhances the specific functions of each cytokine, unlike most other half-life extending technologies. The company has demonstrated positive responses in preclinical studies, in both cancer and inflammatory disease models. Through extensive investigation, Deka has found that not all people respond to the same cytokine in the same way. Deka has therefore developed assays that evaluate each patients' response to each cytokine pair and found genetic signatures that are uniquely associated with response to each Diakine™. Deka will evaluate this genetic signature in future clinical trials to ensure that each patient is matched with their best Diakine™. The team at Deka is committed to developing Diakines™ that can treat every patient.
"This investment by our multi-national, top-tier syndicate enables our first step in developing the Diakine™ platform," said John Mumm, CEO and founder of Deka Biosciences. "We are proud to join forces with our board of directors to bring these life-changing medicines to patients as quickly and effectively as possible. We share the vision to fundamentally change the nature of drug development and change the standard of healthcare through coupling our platform technology with predictive precision medicine. We are honored to have Leaps by Bayer as our lead investor as we share the goals to develop cures for patients through innovative science and precision medicine. We dare to leap as they do."
"Leaps by Bayer aims to achieve life transforming breakthroughs for patients, this is why we invest in technologies of tomorrow already today," said Juergen Eckhardt, MD, Head of Leaps by Bayer. "One of humankind's biggest challenges and one of the big goals Leaps by Bayer is trying to solve is to prevent and cure cancer. We believe next-generation immunotherapies will play a pivotal role in addressing this challenge and Deka Biosciences' cytokine therapy approach has the potential to change treatment-paradigms for cancer patients and for those suffering from auto-immune diseases."
"Deka Biosciences has developed a unique and strongly differentiated platform to produce cytokines with therapeutically complementary functions that circumvent several challenges associated with naturally occurring and modified cytokines," said Benjamin (Beni) Rovinski, PhD, Managing Director of Lumira Ventures. "At Lumira, our mission is to invest in companies at the forefront of biomedical innovation whose products have the potential to transform patient outcomes. It is gratifying to support Deka in pursuit of such a goal."
"Deka has made impressive progress since its inception. We are excited to partner with Deka, and its Diakine™ platform, to provide best-in-class therapies to patients," said Yi-Yen Chen, managing director at Echo Investment Capital's O-Bio fund, a life science focused fund headquartered in Oklahoma City.
The investment will enable Deka to advance its research and talent acquisition and further expand development of its platform, in particular to file the Investigation New Drug (IND) application for the lead oncology program and advance the lead compound into Phase I clinical trials.
About Deka Biosciences
Deka is an early-stage biotech company focused on the development of novel cytokine therapies to treat cancer and inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and sepsis. The company is led by serial entrepreneur John Mumm, who is backed by a team of experienced biopharma and CDMO innovators with expertise in drug discovery, product development, characterization and testing. Deka has developed disease specific Diakines™ that maximize patient benefits through improved pharmacokinetics / pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) function via targeted delivery of dual and complimentary cytokines to affected tissues or cells. Through the use of precision medicine, Deka's vision is to maximize the impact of its Diakine™ therapeutic proteins by ensuring treatment of patients who will best benefit from and respond to our cytokine therapies. To learn more, visit www.dekabiosciences.com.