Biotechnology has been harnessed by humanity for more than 6,000 years to make useful food products. But modern biotechnology is being harnessed in many ways other than for food products. Modern biotechnology at its best has provided us with breakthrough products and technologies which is now helping in combating rare diseases and debilitating ailments, reduce environmental footprint, make clean energy and to make manufacturing processes much more efficient.
The Biopharma industry though has gained the most from biotechnology after the Food Industry. Biopharma is fuelling innovation and revolutionizing how we make drugs today. Some companies though are doing it differently. One company that stands out among these is Trevena Inc.
Founded in 2007, Trevena’s expertise lies in engineering “biased ligands” which was pioneered in by Dr. Robert Lefkowitz and Dr. Howard Rockman. The idea of Trevena originated from the work they did in their laboratory at Duke University. Based on the research carried out by these two, Trevena researched and created drugs which have improved efficacy and reduced side effect profiles.
Pennsylvania-based Trevena was founded in 2007 based on the promise shown by the study of Dr. Lefkowitz and Dr. Rockman to harness the biased ligands for drugs. The company has been successfully demonstrating that biased ligands can be discovered and optimized for a number of distinct GPCRs.
Pioneering GPCR therapeutics
Trevena has been successfully demonstrating that the biased ligands can be discovered and optimized for many distinct GPCRs. These biased ligands show a unique spectrum of pharmacological responses. The discovery of these multiple biased ligands has given new hope to GPCR-targeted therapeutics to meet a huge number of unmet patient needs.
The company is currently working on a clinical stage mu-opioid biased ligand which would be helpful in relieving postoperative pain, and discovery of stage programs for chronic pain, migraine, and Parkinson’s disease.
On a mission to mitigate pain
Trevena is on a mission to find ways to mitigate pain. In its efforts, its lead product candidate is Oliceridine injection. Oliceridine injection is a next-generation IV analgesic and has recently completed its Phase 3 pivotal efficacy studies in patients who suffer from moderate-to-severe acute pain.
There were two studies that were done to determine the efficacy of the intravenous drug and the results from its efficacy studies have been promising. All dose regimens from the studies have achieved the sought after results as the drug had greater efficacy than placebo. The Oliceridine injection also showed better potential at providing pain relief than the patients administered with IV morphine regimen. Moreover, Oliceridine also showed numerically less frequent adverse effects.
The drug comes with promise and was designated a Breakthrough Therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With several other product candidates in the pipeline, the company is leading the way in a wide range of therapeutic areas which include moderate-to-severe acute and chronic pain, and migraine.
The company in its three rounds of funding has raised as much as $174 million and continues to grow. With a strong company history that is rooted in science, Trevena is successfully converting a Nobel Prize winning research into a new generation of groundbreaking medicines. Their new and novel approach in medicine has firmly established them as the pioneers in acute care medicine.
The Pharma Luminary
Carrie L. Bourdow, President and CEO
Ms. Bourdow joined Trevena in 2015. She has served the company in various senior positions and was appointed to her current role as the President and CEO in October 2018.
Before Trevena, Ms. Bourdow was the Vice President of Marketing at Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., from 2013 to 2015. Here, she was responsible for the launch strategy, marketing, reimbursement, and operations for five care hospital pharmaceuticals which totaled over $1 billion in annual revenues. Prior to her stint at Cubist, she spent more than 20 years at Merck & Co., Inc. She is on the board of Nabriva Therapeutics plc., a publicly traded Biopharma company.
GPCR Biased Ligands
It was only in the late 1990s and the early 2000s that the capacity of the receptor to signal through both G Proteins and β-arrestins was discovered. The discovery was made by Dr. Robert Lefkowitz at Duke University. His later work made revelations which indicated that G protein and β-arrestins pathways could be pharmacologically modulated by biased ligands.
In mid-2000s, a few biased ligands were discovered which specifically targeted G Protein or β-arrestins signaling. This gave way to the idea of GPCR signaling in receptor biology. Dr. Lefkowitz and Dr. Howard Rockman then began to consider the possibility that biased ligands could modify GPCR-mediated pharmacology to deliver new and differentiated medicines. The idea of Trevena came out of this. For Dr. Lefkowitz’s study into GPCRs, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2012.
“At Trevena, our mission is to deliver innovative medicines to patients and healthcare providers confronting serious medical conditions.”
“We are dedicated to discovering and developing therapies intended to provide valuable improvements to patient care.”