Article | February 27, 2024

Companies To Watch: Antiva Biosciences

Source: Life Science Leader
wayne koberstein

By Wayne Koberstein, Executive Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @WayneKoberstein

Kristine Ball Headshot 2023
Kristine Ball

Targeting the continuing need for HPV treatment with a topical antiviral.


Antiva Biosciences is developing a new drug, coded ABI-2280, for treating Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)-related diseases, including precancerous conditions. ABI-2280 is a prodrug of an acyclic nucleoside phosphonate, formulated to improve safety as well as enhance deliverability as a topical medicine. The drug is now in early to mid-stage clinical development with Phase 1/2 programs targeting HPV infection and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN 2,3). Antiva currently has no other development programs in its pipeline.


We have learned how to prevent many diseases, but even for the best tools such as vaccines, many stubborn obstacles remain, leaving large gaps in the sphere of prevention. “Unfortunately, needed vaccines are not available in many countries,” says Kristine Ball, president and CEO of Antiva, offering an example. “Japan has no widespread vaccine program and the highest growing rates of cervical cancer per capita of any country in the world. Even in the U.S., vaccination rates are less than ideal. In fact, the rates have been decreasing since Covid. We need the vaccines but we also need therapeutics.”

Antiva has formulated its compound to be, unlike most vaccines, carried almost anywhere and even self-administered. It is a vaginal topical tablet a woman uses in the privacy of her own home, at night before bed. “We are still testing various doses and dosing regimens in our clinical trials, but aiming for three times a week over one to two weeks,” Ball says. She says the drug may treat all subtypes of HPV and all states of disease from infection through high-grade precancerous lesions (CIN 2,3).

Ball points out that HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. Antiva plans to enroll the first patient in a Phase 1/2 study to treat women with high-risk HPV infection early this year. It expects to see topline data from that study in 2025.

Nowadays, it appears new small molecule drug chemistry may well prove just as innovative as the most advanced biotherapies. Antiva’s drug is a novel molecule, rather than a simple reformulation. The company’s founder, Dr. Karl Hostetler, created the molecule in his lab at the University of California at San Diego, and the company obtained it under exclusive license before starting up in 2013.

Like many young middle-class Americans in the postwar decades, Ball became the first woman in her family to graduate from college. She had wanted to be a biology major but no clear path to a bio career existed at that time, so she entered the business school at Babson College, with a minor in “science technology and society.” Her first job after graduation was in the life science audit practice of Ernst & Young. That ultimately led her into management at a string of biopharma companies, drawn especially to the ones with daring agendas. The ambitious mission of Antiva motivated her to come on board to replace the previous CEO in April 2023. For the future, Ball’s plan is to consider all possible opportunities and “exits,” but, come what may, always keep the company and its considerable talents on track to complete the passage to market and patient access. If or when Antiva achieves success, the world should celebrate, because the need for its treatment is truly worldwide.


Employees: 12

Headquarters: Redwood City, CA.

Finances: Total raised $95M; VC Rounds $95M; lead investors: MPM-BioImpact, Canaan Partners, Sofinnova Investments, Adjuvant Capital, GV and Lumira Ventures, among others.

December 2023: Received Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval to conduct Phase 1/2 study of ABI-2880 in Australia.

March 2024: Company finalizing preparations for initiating Phase 1/2 efficacy study of ABI-2880 in women with high risk HPV infection.