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SCIENCE|BUSINESS: German biotech gets €24M EIB financing for COVID-19 therapy

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11:34 CET, 20 October 2020 – Read the full article here

Atriva Therapeutics, a developer of antiviral therapies, has sealed a €24 million financing agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support development clinical testing of a novel therapy for severe respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Atriva’s ATR-002, an oral small molecule, has been shown to block replication of SARS-CoV-2 in pre-clinical trials. It is thought the molecule will also be effective against flu.

Ambroise Fayolle, EIB vice president in charge of innovation and transactions in Germany, said, “If, as Atriva’s research indicates, one small molecule can work to treat both diseases, this would be excellent news not only for the millions of people who fall ill from the flu every year but also for the many more who are affected by the coronavirus.”

Research commissioner, Mariya Gabriel said, “With this loan to Atriva, the EU continues its support for the development of innovative COVID-19 treatments. “[ATR-002] can add to the range of complementary solutions that we need to tackle this disease.”

The EIB funding enables Atriva to start a phase II study in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 infections, said Rainer Lichtenberger, co-founder and CEO of Tübingen-based Atriva. “Our ultimate goal, though, is to develop a broad-spectrum antiviral drug that will also be effective against future viral outbreaks.”

ATR-002 works by inhibiting MEK, an enzyme produced in human host cells, that is essential for the replication of viruses, including the influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2. Atriva’s pre-clinical studies, performed at the Universities of Tübingen and Münster, have demonstrated that MEK inhibition by ATR-002 prevents SARS-CoV-2 replication.

In addition, ATR-002 significantly decreases expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, which it thought could help avoid over-activation of the immune systems that is seen in seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

Atriva will receive the EIB loan in three tranches upon the completion of pre-defined milestones.

The loan is backed by the Infectious Diseases Finance Facility, part of the Horizon Europe programme.