RALEIGH – Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a heredity disease with no cure. However, biotech startup Arrevus is working on a drug that could potentially extend the lifespans of those living with the disease.

The Raleigh-based firm recently received a $250,000 loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to support the development of its Phase 3 drug candidate ARV-1801 for the treatment of pulmonary exacerbations in CF patients.

These episodes of “acute worsening of pulmonary status” occur frequently in patients with cystic fibrosis, and result in a sequential and permanent decline in lung function.

“All CF patients encounter these exacerbations — twice or maybe three times a year — where they’re coughing, feeling worse,” said Dr. Carl N. Kraus, founder and CEO of Arrevus.

The Arrevus pipeline (Arrevus graphic)

“What we hope to do is either shorten that time that they are experiencing this infection, or maybe even prevent them from going into hospital.”

In February 2019, Arrevus purchased the ARV-1801 (sodium fusidate) program from Melinta Therapeutics.

While it’s not a cure, it has the potential to extend a patient’s lifespan, he said.

“If you look at pulmonary exacerbation as a whole, those patients that experience more than two or so a year have a far higher risk of death than those that are experiencing less than one. If we can find ways of limiting the impact of these exacerbations, where they’re not reducing their lung function, it’s quite possible [to extend life.]

“But we wouldn’t know the answer to that question now. It would take years to figure out.”

In 2015, Kraus founded Arrevus after holding scientific and management roles in the pharmaceutical industry, including i3Research, a subsidiary of United Health Group, where he served as senior director of infectious diseases, over the past decade.

Kraus also worked at PRA International, where he was the global scientific head for infectious diseases. He has most recently served for three years as the chief medical officer for Nanotherapeutics, a biodefense-oriented biotechnology company.

The project is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.

To date, the startup has raised around $4.5 million in funding.

Raleigh-based biotech startup Arrevus raises $150,000 in debt