Accent Therapeutics Bolsters Leadership Team with Key Executive Hires
New team members bring critical skills and experience as the company aims to advance its first two investigational programs into clinical studies
LEXINGTON, Mass., September 21, 2023 – Accent Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company pioneering a new class of small molecule precision cancer therapies, today announced the appointments of Jason Sager, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer, Steven Mennen, Ph.D., as Vice President of Pre-Clinical Development and Stuart Ince, Ph.D. as Vice President of Program Leadership.
"Our dedication to fortifying our team underscores the remarkable progress we've achieved as Accent advances its lead programs towards the clinic,” said Shakti Narayan, Chief Executive Officer of Accent. "We're thrilled to welcome Jason as our Chief Medical Officer; his extensive expertise in the field of oncology will play a crucial role in advancing our therapeutic programs and pipeline. Steven and Stuart are proven leaders in drug development. Together, Jason, Steven, and Stuart’s combined experience will be immensely valuable as Accent moves towards becoming a clinical-stage company and bringing novel therapies to patients."
These key executive hires enhance Accent’s positioning to potentially advance two investigational programs into the clinic. The company is currently conducting IND-enabling studies for its lead program evaluating a first-in-class DHX9 inhibitor with the potential to address high unmet need indications that lack targeted therapies, including colorectal, endometrial, gastric, and other high microsatellite instable (MSI-H) cancers, as well as numerous undisclosed additional cancer types representing large patient populations. Accent is also on track to begin IND-enabling studies for a second undisclosed program by the end of 2023.
Jason Sager, M.D., Chief Medical Officer
Before joining Accent, Dr. Sager most recently served as a Chief Medical Officer or in a consultancy role for several biotech companies, including Ikena Oncology and Angiex. As a pediatric oncologist, he has extensive experience in biotech, pharmaceutical and academic research. Dr. Sager has also spent over 18 years dedicated to the development of new cancer treatments for patients of all ages at companies including Genentech, Novartis and Sanofi, bringing multiple drugs into the clinic and through proof of concept, including Kisqali™ (ribociclib). He has served as an advisor for medical technology companies including Bionaut Labs and Privo Technologies. Dr. Sager also established his own company in 2013, Sagely Health, whose mission is to guide cancer patients to access novel therapies that improve their outcome. In clinical practice, Dr. Sager has worked at Johns Hopkins University, the National Cancer Institute, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is currently a Deshpande Center Catalyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he mentors grant recipients establishing early-stage companies. Dr. Sager received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College.
Steven Mennen, Ph.D., Vice President Preclinical Development
Dr. Mennen has 15 years of global experience in Chemistry and Manufacturing Controls (CMC)/Technical Operations (TechOps) across a wide range of therapeutic indications. Prior to joining Accent, Dr. Mennen served as Executive Director, Head of CMC at Fulcrum Therapeutics where he was responsible for starting and building the CMC/TechOps team and leading drug substance, drug product, analytical sciences, and clinical supply chain. He started his career in Small Molecule Process Development at Amgen where he gained increasing leadership opportunities. As a recognized industry expert, he has been awarded the American Chemical Society Young Investigator Award for his career accomplishments and was a corecipient of the American Chemistry Society ChemLuminary Award. Dr. Mennen obtained his Ph.D. at Boston College as a fellow of the American Chemical Society Division of Organic Chemistry and completed his postdoctoral fellowship through the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California–Irvine.
Stuart Ince, Ph.D., Vice President of Program Leadership
Dr. Ince brings over 20 years of experience in Research and Development to Accent. Formerly, he was the Vice President of Program Management at Tango Therapeutics and held Program Leader and Program Management roles on development programs for Bayer AG’s oncology portfolio. His research has contributed to transitioning multiple programs into development, and he holds 12 issued U.S. patents. As a drug developer, Dr. Ince has brought multiple investigational new drugs into human clinical trials, in both solid and liquid tumor indications. He held a key role in the approval of Vitrakvi™ (larotrectinib) as the first drug to receive tissue agnostic approval as initial indication in the US, Europe, and China. Dr. Ince received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Cambridge, UK, and was a Marie-Curie post-doctoral fellow at the RWTH in Aachen, Germany.
Accent’s lead program is a first-in-class DHX9 inhibitor with the potential to address high unmet need indications that lack targeted therapies; these include colorectal, endometrial, gastric, and other high microsatellite instable (MSI-H) cancers. Several additional undisclosed cancer types representing large patient populations are also being explored based on their sensitivities to DHX9 inhibition. DHX9 is a DNA/RNA helicase that has been reported to play important roles in replication, transcription, translation, RNA splicing, RNA processing, and maintenance of genomic stability. Hence, this enzyme represents a compelling novel oncology target as inhibition of DHX9 exploits key tumor vulnerabilities, resulting in cancer-specific death.
About Accent Therapeutics
Accent Therapeutics is pioneering a new class of small molecule precision cancer therapies targeting critical intracellular dependencies that span multiple types of cancer. Building upon industry-leading expertise in RNA-modifying proteins (RMPs) and the systematic mapping of both the RMP space and adjacent high-value areas for drug discovery, the company is building a flexible model that allows for a diversity of approaches to developing potentially transformative biomarker-driven cancer medicines. Accent’s therapies are designed for both novel and known, but suboptimally-addressed, high-impact oncogenic targets with the potential to benefit large patient populations with significant unmet need. For more information on Accent’s mission to translate extraordinary science into life-changing therapeutics for patients living with cancer, visit www.accenttx.com or follow us on LinkedIn.
Sarah O’Connell, Verge Scientific Communications