Atriva Therapeutics Announces Changes to Management in COVID-19

  • 5 min read
  • Olaf Althaus appointed Chief Financial Officer
  • Stephan Stenglein, M.D., recently joined as Chief Medical Officer
  • Proven track record and 20+ years of experience in their respective fields of expertise

Tübingen (Germany), April 13 2021 – Atriva Therapeutics GmbH, a biopharmaceutical company that is pioneering the development of host-targeting antiviral therapies, today announced two changes to its management team. Olaf Althaus was appointed Chief Financial Officer, effective May 2020, while Stephan Stenglein, M.D., was named Chief Medical Officer, effective February 2021.

“We are very pleased to have gained two outstanding specialists to complete our management team – each appointee has vast experience in their respective fields of expertise. Both have worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries for the past 20 years at least,” said Dr. Rainer Lichtenberger, CEO of Atriva Therapeutics.

The timing is perfect for Atriva as it is aiming to define and expand the management team’s specific areas of responsibility: “Olaf and Stephan have joined us at an important time as we are currently entering a critical stage in the clinical testing of our lead candidate, ATR-002,” noted Dr. Lichtenberger.

“Besides this, we are honing our financial and organizational strategy to ensure the successful development of ATR-002. Olaf brings a wealth of financial acumen and leadership experience to Atriva. Stephan brings years of expertise in the late-stage clinical development of respiratory drugs. He will play a crucial role in managing our clinical Phase II trial which is key to Atriva’s valuation and success. We warmly welcome Olaf and Stephan to the team,” added Dr. Lichtenberger.

Olaf Althaus is an experienced biotech entrepreneur and manager with a proven track record of more than 20 years in the life science industry. He was co-founder, CEO and CFO at CellMed AG for 12 years and Managing Director at AEterna Zentaris GmbH. Before entering the pharmaceutical industry, he worked in private equity and investment banking for several financial institutes in Frankfurt and London. Olaf holds a degree in industrial engineering, business administration and applied mathematics from Karlsruhe University (Diplom Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen).

Stephan Stenglein, M.D., is a physician trained in clinical and molecular virology with more than 20 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including in medical device and vaccine development. Stephan was previously VP & Head Late-Stage Development Respiratory at AstraZeneca from March 2018. Prior to that his posts included Global Program Clinical Head and Global Program Medical Director, both in the respiratory field, at Novartis AG; VP Clinical Sciences at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals and Global Medical Director at Shire Plc. Stephan holds an M.D. from the Faculty of Medicine at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU).

Atriva Therapeutics has recently started a clinical Phase II trial of their lead candidate ATR‑002 in the treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. RESPIRE[1] – led by Prof. Gernot Rohde, M.D., Head of Pneumology and Professor for Respiratory Medicine and Allergology at the Goethe University Hospital, Frankfurt am Main, Germany – is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study currently being conducted at national and international study centers, including the Berlin-based Charité. ATR-002 is a small molecule developed against respiratory infection caused by RNA viruses.

About ATR-002’s mode of action with dual benefit

Atriva’s lead product ATR-002 is being developed specifically to treat diseases such as influenza and COVID-19, caused by RNA viruses. 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, including 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 the 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.[2] In addition, ATR-002 has the potential to modulate the pro-inflammatory cytokine response of the body, avoiding an overshooting cytokine response that can be caused by such viral infections. MEK inhibition can reduce the gene expression of some of the cytokines involved, such as 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.[3]

About Atriva Therapeutics GmbH

Atriva Therapeutics, founded in 2015, is a biopharmaceutical company that is pioneering the development of host-targeting antiviral therapies. It was set up by a team of leading scientists in viral research as well as proven 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 that aims to inhibit viral replication in influenza and to favorably modulate 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 started a Phase II study to evaluate efficacy in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.[1] A Phase II study in influenza is due to start later in 2021. The Company owns 11 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 based in Tübingen and Frankfurt, Germany.

Atriva is a founding member of the BEAT-COV initiative. www.beat-cov.de

For further information, please visit www.atriva-therapeutics.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Contact:
Atriva Therapeutics GmbH

Dr. Rainer Lichtenberger, CEO
+49 69 667781 5180
+49 151 7443 3175
lichtenberger@atriva-therapeutics.com

Media and Investor Relations:
MC Services AG
Eva Bauer / Raimund Gabriel
+49 89 210 228 80
atriva-therapeutics@mc-services.eu

[1]     RESPIRE – A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Multi-Centre Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of ATR-002 in Adult Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19.

[2]     Pleschka S et al. Nat Cell Biol 2001 Feb 3:301-5Planz O Antiviral Res 2013 Jun 98(3):457-68Haasbach E et al. Antiviral Res 2017 Jun 142:178-4Laure M et al. Antiviral Res 2020 Jun 178:104806.

[3]     Pinto R et al. Antiviral Res 2011 Oct 92(1):45-56Planz O Antiviral Res 2013 Jun 98(3):457-68Schräder T et al. Antiviral Res 2018 Sep 157:80-92.