Economy & Politics

InterviewAtriva researcher Stephan Ludwig: “We have a miracle cure here”

Corona ward in a Moscow clinic. A drug to treat the sick is still missingimago images / ITAR-TASS Your ATR 002 remedy is actually effective against flu. How did you come up with Corona?

Stephan Ludwig, virologist at the University of Münster, is one of the co-founders of Atriva Therapeutics

STEPHAN LUDWIG: Flu and corona viruses both belong to the group of RNA viruses. In the case of flu viruses, we had shown that our active ingredient has a double benefit, it inhibits the viruses and ensures that the immune system does not overshoot.

Does it work with corona viruses too?

Yes, we have now been able to demonstrate both effects. We tested this in laboratories in Münster and Tübingen on human cells with virus isolates from the first corona patients. We were able to show that the viruses can be suppressed sustainably, so the effect is still there for several days. This is important, otherwise the substance would only delay the virus multiplication and postpone the infection. We had set ourselves a limit on how much the active ingredient had to suppress the viruses. We have exceeded that tenfold.

You are now starting phase 2 of the clinical trials with the Charité.

Yes, we were lucky and got another slot at the Charité. There are a lot of people who want to have their active ingredient tested for Covid-19 and the Charité has to select. We were able to show not only our laboratory results, but also our tolerance tests in healthy people. In the study, several hundred Covid-19 patients worldwide will now swallow our active ingredient ATR 002 – and a comparison group a placebo. It should start at the end of July. We had a very constructive conversation with the approval authority BfArM, with whom we are in intensive exchange because of the optimal design of the study.

Who does your medication help best?

It is intended for the moderately to severely ill Covid patients, i.e. those who are struggling with the virus, but whose immune system is already working at the limit. It is true that in the first phase of Covid-19 disease, the virus in particular causes damage, in the second phase an excessive immune system causes life-threatening problems. ATR 002 works in both phases. Our goal is to reduce the severity of the course and thus reduce the number of patients who need to be ventilated or intubated in intensive care units. In the end, we hope that this will noticeably reduce the death rate.

There are a lot of approaches and hope values ​​at the moment. The world longs for a miracle cure.

At the moment there are probably around 140 active substances that are applied to the corona viruses. Only a handful of these are likely to have an antiviral effect and, at the same time, a stabilizing effect on the immune system. So that is a rarity. In addition, our remedy also works against a wide variety of pathogens, which is very unusual. If I may say it theatrically: We already have a miracle cure in our hands.

How reliable is your data? There is currently a lot of criticism of clinical studies too?

Many researchers are currently making their data public at an early stage so that they can be discussed. Unfortunately, this often ends with accusations and strange campaigns. We will also publish our data as quickly as possible, but want to submit it directly to a science journal in order to have an independent review process. What we see so far is very multilingual, we have to see everything else.

The investors are now waiting in line for you.

It would be nice. We are still urgently looking for further funding. Such a phase 2 costs a few million. Money is our biggest concern right now. We applied for public funding, but we don’t know how much we are getting. We are also in closer contact with the Gates Foundation.

When will the drug be launched?

If everything goes well, the studies will be completed in the spring of next year. However, a market launch will still take a while, it also depends on the regulatory authorities.

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