“The entire biotech sector is now showing what it’s made of!”

BioRegio STERN conducted an interview with Dr. Rainer Lichtenberger, cofounder and CEO of Atriva Therapeutics GmbH, which recently announced the approval of a phase II trial on COVID-19 patients. Led by the Charité university hospital in Berlin, the trial will test the efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of ATR-002 on 220 patients in Germany and around the world. This drug developed by the biopharmaceutical company founded in Tübingen is intended to treat patients who are moderately or seriously ill with COVID-19.

Is it true to say that you and the entire biotech sector are currently under a great deal of stress and have an unprecedented workload?

Yes, there’s lots of work to do, but I’m extremely motivated, just like all my colleagues. We’re all being spurred on by the desire to play our part in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and the entire biotech sector is showing what it’s made of. Comparing biotechnology with the pharmaceutical industry is like comparing a speedboat with a supertanker and illustrates that hopes are currently being pinned on what our sector is coming up with. Biotech research and activities are finally gaining the recognition and appreciation they deserve – a real paradigm shift. The population is realising that salvation doesn’t come in the shape of SUVs with petrol engines, but rather smart technologies that make the world a better place. That applies to both the healthcare sector and environmental protection. Germany has finally once again provided convincing proof of its global scientific prowess in terms of both vaccine development and treatment. Four of the six most important approaches come from companies either based in Germany or with German roots. What we still need to do is to grasp our opportunities and shape our further development in such a way as to create a life sciences industry that has a similar international standing. We’ve had a wake-up call and I hope we don’t simply hit the snooze button.  

How do you see the further development of Atriva Therapeutics GmbH?

We currently have two sites – one in Tübingen and one in Frankfurt/Main. The excellent links at the clinical site in Frankfurt are vital for international collaboration, but we’re also envisaging further expansion of our lab facilities in Tübingen. The loan from the EIB has secured the necessary funding to complete this phase II trial in its entirety.  

The active ingredient candidate ATR-002 is the Atriva product at the most advanced stage of development. Are you already in a position to announce further candidates in the pipeline?

The other active ingredient candidates we’re working on primarily concern additional indications for the initial candidate, such as tropical viruses or hantavirus. We’ve now carried out tests on eight different viruses, including various strains of bird flu, and we’ve established that our mode of action is on such a broad footing that it’s effective in all these scenarios. That means we’re also in the perfect position when it comes to pandemic awareness, making sure our healthcare system is prepared for new, unknown viruses. In the medium term, we’re planning a wider active ingredient platform.


About Atriva Therapeutics GmbH:

Atriva Therapeutics, founded in 2015, is a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of host-targeting antiviral therapies set up by a team of leading scientists in viral research and seasoned industry experts. 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. The Atriva lead product ATR-002 is a first-in-class host-targeting agent which inhibits viral replication in influenza and favorably modulates the body’s immune response. ATR-002 is under clinical development and has successfully completed a Phase I trial to demonstrate safety and tolerability in healthy subjects.

The Company has obtained regulatory approval for a Phase II study to evaluate efficacy in hospitalized COVID-19 patients; a Phase II study in influenza is planned to start later in 2021.  The Company owns eleven patent families with broad international coverage related to the use of MEK inhibitors and other kinase inhibitors for antiviral therapies. The patent life runs through 2041. Atriva Therapeutics is located in Tübingen and Frankfurt, Germany.


About BioRegio STERN Management GmbH:

BioRegio STERN Management GmbH promotes economic development in the life sciences industry, helping to strengthen the region as a business location by supporting innovations and start-up companies in the public interest. It is the main point of contact for company founders and entrepreneurs in the Stuttgart and NeckarAlb regions, including the cities of Tübingen and Reutlingen. The STERN BioRegion is one of the largest and most successful bioregions in Germany. Its unique selling points include a mix of biotech and medtech companies that is outstanding in Germany and regional clusters in the fields of automation technology and mechanical engineering.

BioRegio STERN Management GmbH