Antiva Biosciences Raises $16 Million Series B Financing to Advance Lead Compound for Human Papillomavirus Infections
Gail Maderis Appointed President and Chief Executive Officer; Steven P. James Appointed Executive Chairman of the Board
August 6, 2015 – Menlo Park, CA – Antiva Biosciences, Inc. (formerly Hera Therapeutics), a biopharmaceutical company developing antiviral therapeutics, today announced that it has raised $16 million in a Series B financing, its first institutional round. In addition, the company announced that Gail Maderis has been appointed president and chief executive officer. The financing was co-led by Canaan Partners and Sofinnova Ventures, with existing investors also contributing to the financing. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Antiva’s lead compound, ABI-1968, through Phase 1 clinical trials. ABI-1968 is a topical antiviral for the treatment of high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, the primary cause of cervical cancer.
Antiva also announced that Steven P. James has been appointed as executive chairman of the board. In previous roles as a chief executive officer, James established a track record of helping create significant value for shareholders, including recent back-to-back exits with Labrys Biologics Inc. (sold to Teva) and KAI Pharmaceuticals Inc. (sold to Amgen). Also joining Antiva’s board of directors with this financing are Wende Hutton, general partner of Canaan Partners, and David Kabakoff, executive partner of Sofinnova Ventures.
“For women who have cervical lesions caused by high-risk HPV strains, surgery is currently the only available therapy to remove abnormal cells and stop the progression to cervical cancer,” noted Ms. Maderis. “Data presented by our founder, Karl Hostetler, M.D., and coworkers, indicated that ABI-1968 may prevent replication of high-risk HPV – including the two subtypes that cause 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer. I am hopeful Antiva can become the first biotech company to develop a direct-acting antiviral therapy for HPV, and I look forward to working with such a successful group of investors and entrepreneurs.”
Despite the availability of two different vaccines against the most common strains of HPV, millions of people are still affected by HPV infection, which can lead to multiple cancers, including cervical cancer, head and neck cancer and anal cancer. Antiva has used its medicinal chemistry platform to identify a compound that has potent antiviral effect on several common strains of HPV. The compound has potential to be used topically, and early studies demonstrate that it has benign effect on human vaginal epithelial tissue.
“Antiva has great potential as an anti-viral platform to develop therapeutics for the treatment of HPV infections and HPV-related cancers,” noted Ms. Hutton. She added, “In a rather short amount of time, we could have proof of concept data that the company’s lead drug is biologically active against HPV, an insidious virus that is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. If it is effective, there is a large market opportunity for what could be a very easy course of treatment.”
Prior to joining Antiva, Maderis was the president & CEO of BayBio, the industry organization supporting Northern California’s life science community. From 2003 to 2009, Gail served as president and CEO of Five Prime Therapeutics Inc., a privately held protein discovery and development company. At Five Prime, she successfully funded the company’s rapid growth through substantial private equity financings and corporate partnerships and took the company’s first novel cancer therapeutic from discovery into clinical trials. Prior to Five Prime, Gail held senior executive positions at Genzyme Corporation, including founder and president of Genzyme Molecular Oncology. She serves on the boards of directors of NovaBay Pharmaceuticals and Opexa Therapeutics.
About Antiva Biosciences
Antiva Biosciences was founded by Karl Hostetler, M.D., a leader in virology who founded Chimerix, Triangle Therapeutics (acquired by Gilead) and Vical. The company is using a new medicinal chemistry platform to develop antiviral therapies, focusing first on HPV. Antiva has additional molecules that target HIV, the herpes virus, cytomegalovirus and others.