Attenua is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel, non-narcotic medicines for cough.
Chronic cough — defined as lasting more than eight weeks — is estimated to affect than 10% of adults in the United States. There are no therapies approved for the treatment of chronic cough.
Attenua’s lead drug candidate, bradanicline, which targets a new mechanism for cough, is currently in Phase 2 clinical development for chronic cough.
The company raised $35 million in a Series A financing from leading life sciences investors in April 2018, and is led by an experienced team of industry veterans with significant discovery and development experience in cough.
Michael Kitt, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Kitt joined Attenua as Chief Executive Officer in April 2018, bringing more than 30 years of clinical development experience and industry expertise. Prior to joining Attenua he developed AF-219, a P2X3 antagonist for the treatment of cough at Afferent Pharmaceuticals, Inc as Chief Medical Officer. Prior to that Dr. Kitt served as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Portola Pharmaceuticals, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Nuon Therapeutics, Inc. From March 2002 to September 2008, he served as Senior Vice President of Development at Theravance, Inc. He has also held various executive positions at several pharmaceutical companies, including COR Therapeutics, Sterling-Winthrop, Inc. and The Upjohn Company. Dr. Kitt received his M.D. degree from NYU School of Medicine and B.S. in Biochemistry from NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
Peter G. Butera
Vice President, Clinical Operations
Mr. Butera joined Attenua in April 2018 as VP, Clinical Operations, bringing more than 30 years of diverse clinical experience, from CROs and large pharma to start-up companies. Mr. Butera was previously Vice President, Clinical Operations at Afferent, where he ran clinical programs in chronic pain and cough, until its $1.25 billion acquisition by Merck & Co. in 2016. Prior to Afferent, Mr. Butera spent 10 years at Pain Therapeutics serving as director and vice president, clinical operations. In this role, he managed clinical development programs for chronic pain compounds in both early and late stage development. Mr. Butera has a B.S. degree from Saint Joseph’s University.
Natalie McClure, Ph.D.
Regulatory Affairs (consulting)
Dr. Natalie McClure has more than 30 years of experience in drug development, regulatory affairs and quality assurance. She has filed more than 50 INDs and CTAs, and supervised regulatory affairs and clinical research for clinical trials in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, India and China. Dr. McClure began her career working for Syntex Research, a pharmaceutical company later acquired by Roche, developing new synthetic approaches to prostaglandin and large-scale peptide synthesis. Since then, she has worked with multiple companies, including Adamas Pharmaceuticals, Cerimon Pharmaceuticals, Tularik, IntraBiotics and Matrix Pharmaceutical, to establish internal regulatory affairs and quality assurance systems. Dr. McClure obtained her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Stanford University in 1979 and B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan.
Melissa Joseph, Ph.D.
Pharmaceutical Development (consulting)
Dr. Joseph is a consultant working with Attenua to support the pharmaceutical development and manufacturing activities for the bradanicline project. She has over 20 years of industry chemistry and manufacturing experience producing drug substance and drug product to support studies ranging from preclinical through Phase 3 as well as commercial manufacture. This includes the manufacturing, release, packaging and distribution of both drug substance and drug product in the US as well as Canada, Europe and Asia. She also has experience providing technical input to Module 3 manufacturing sections for INDs, IMPDs and NDAs. Dr. Joseph obtained her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Duke University in 1991 and a BA in Chemistry from Duke University in 1995.
Hugh Rienhoff, M.D.
Chairman; Chief Executive Officer, Imago BioSciences
Dr. Rienhoff is a San Francisco Bay area clinical scientist and entrepreneur. He was a founding director of Healtheon/WebMD (HLTH), Aurora Biosciences (ABSC) and Wilson Therapeutics (WTX). In 1998 he founded DNA Sciences (originally Kiva Genetics) and served as its Chairman and CEO. Dr. Rienhoff founded and was Chief Executive Officer of FerroKin BioSciences from 2007 until its acquisition by Shire Pharmaceuticals in 2012. Dr. Rienhoff founded and is Chief Executive Officer of Imago BioSciences, a clinical stage company focused on hematologic diseases.
Dr. Rienhoff trained in mathematics, medicine, and genetics at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. He received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and English Literature from Williams College.
Advisor, Omega Funds
Dina has been investing in the private equity and venture capital healthcare industry since 2001. Previously at 3i in London and Index Ventures in Geneva, her recent investments including Oxular, TopiVert, Wilson Therapeutics, EUSA Pharma, Endosense and Novexel. Dina is a CFA charterholder and holds a Ph.D. degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Paris VI University, France. She carried out postdoctoral research at Brown University, Providence, US, and at the Fox Chase Cancer Centre, Philadelphia, US.
Private Equity Partner, OrbiMed
Rishi Gupta is a private equity partner at OrbiMed. Prior to that, he was a healthcare investment banker at Raymond James & Associates, served as manager of corporate development at Veritas Medicine and was a summer associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Rishi has published scientific articles on the mechanisms of HIV entry into host cells and legal articles on intellectual property laws in the developing world. In addition to Attenua, he serves or has served on the boards of Turnstone Biologics, Modis Therapeutics, Verona Pharma, Avitide, Symbiomix Therapeutics, Dimension Therapeutics, ChemoCentryx and Sientra. He has also been actively involved with OrbiMed’s investments in Acceleron Pharma, CoGenesys, Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Adimab, Receptos, Aragon Pharmaceuticals, Seragon Pharmaceuticals, Alector, Arsanis, Biotie, Invitae and ORIC Pharmaceuticals. Rishi earned a J.D. from the Yale Law School and an A.B. degree magna cum laude in biochemical sciences from Harvard College.
Jing Liang, Ph.D.
Jing is the CEO of Heliome Biotech and founder of Attenua: he holds a PhD in Biophysics from John Hopkins University and a B.S. in Biochemistry with Honors from Penn State University. Before founding Attenua Jing was a Pharmaceutical management consultant for 10 years, advising clients on Business Development, M&A Strategy, Market Research, and Clinical Development issues. As a serial entrepreneur, he also founded Storelli Sports and Umbrex.
Previous, he was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company in the firm’s Healthcare Practice.
Michael Kitt, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Attenua
Dr. Kitt joined Attenua as Chief Executive Officer in April 2018, bringing more than 30 years of clinical development experience and industry expertise. Prior to joining Attenua he developed AF-219, a P2X3 antagonist for the treatment of cough at Afferent Pharmaceuticals, Inc as Chief Medical Officer. Prior to that Dr. Kitt served as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Portola Pharmaceuticals, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Nuon Therapeutics, Inc. From March 2002 to September 2008, he served as Senior Vice President of Development at Theravance, Inc. He has also held various executive positions at several pharmaceutical companies, including COR Therapeutics, Sterling-Winthrop, Inc. and The Upjohn Company. Dr. Kitt received his M.D. degree from NYU School of Medicine and B.S. in Biochemistry from NYU School of Engineering.
Kurt Von Emster
Managing Partner, Abingworth
Kurt von Emster, CFA is a Managing Partner at Abingworth LLP since 2015. Prior to joining Abingworth, Mr. von Emster was a co-founder and Partner of venBio LLC from 2009 until 2015. In 2001, Mr. von Emster became a General Partner at MPM Capital, a leading biotechnology private equity firm, where he invested in public and private biotechnology companies and managed the MPM BioEquities Fund until his departure in 2009. Mr. von Emster’s investment career started in 1989 at Franklin Templeton Investments where he founded and managed several health and biotechnology funds through 2001. He is a member of the board of directors of CRISPR Therapeutics, Inc., CymaBay Therapeutics, Attenua and is Chairman of SutroVax, Inc. He is a former member of the board of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Kesios Therapeutics, Ltd., Cytos Biotechnology, Ltd. (merged with Kuros Biosurgery Holding AG), Facet Biotech Corporation (sold to Abbott Laboratories in 2010), and Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (sold to Pernix Therapeutics Holdings, Inc. in 2013), and a former board observer of Acceleron Pharma Inc. Mr. von Emster holds a B.S. in Business and Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.