Atriva Therapeutics, a Tübingen and Frankfurt, Germany-based biopharmaceutical company developing host-targeting antiviral therapies, closed a € 8.6m ($ 10.2m) convertible loan.
The round was led by Meneldor B.V. and High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), joined by existing shareholders and new German and international investors.
The proceeds of the transaction will enable Atriva to start a multinational, double-blind, randomized clinical Phase II study in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 infections, once authorization is granted by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte, BfArM). It will further be used to prepare a Phase II trial in influenza and to continue building a therapy platform to treat respiratory diseases induced by RNA viruses, such as Hantavirus.
Founded in 2015 by Dr. Rainer Lichtenberger, CEO, Atriva Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of host-targeting antiviral therapies. The company aims to develop a therapy platform to treat severe respiratory diseases induced by RNA viruses with a high unmet medical need, such as influenza and COVID-19. Its lead product ATR-002 is a host-targeting agent which inhibits viral replication in influenza and favorably modulates the body’s immune response.
ATR-002 is a clinical stage MEK inhibitor drug candidate targeting the intracellular Raf/MEK/ERK signaling pathway. This pathway is central for replication of many RNA viruses, such as the influenza virus, hantavirus or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and also SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In influenza virus infected cells, the interaction of ATR-002 with MEK (MAPK/ERK kinase) prevents export of the viral genome protein complexes (ribonucleoprotein, RNP) from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, thus blocking the formation of functional new viral particles. This ultimately reduces the viral load in the body. In addition, ATR-002 has the potential to modulate the pro-inflammatory cytokine response of the body, avoiding overshooting cytokine response that can be caused by such viral infections. MEK inhibition can reduce the gene expression of some of the cytokines involved, like TNF-α, IL-1ß, IP-10, IL-8, MCP-1 and MIP-1a, and thus mitigate the overactive inflammatory response in the lungs of patients who are severely ill with influenza or COVID-19.
ATR-002 is under clinical development and has successfully completed a Phase I trial to demonstrate safety and tolerability in healthy subjects. A Phase II study to evaluate efficacy in hospitalized COVID-19 patients is in preparation; a Phase II study in influenza is planned to start in early 2021.
The company owns eleven patent families with broad international coverage related to the use of MEK inhibitors and other kinase inhibitors for anti-viral therapies. The patent life runs through 2041.