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50 Leading Companies of the Year 2017

The pioneer in acute care medicine and better drugs: Trevena Inc.

thesiliconreview-maxine-gowen-ceo-trevena-inc-17Trevena Inc is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, headquartered in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, USA, and is involved in the discovery and development of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) biased ligands. Trevena was founded in 2007 with technology licensed from Duke University, which originated in the labs of company founders Robert Lefkowitz, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Howard Rockman. Trevena's approach to drug discovery is based on utilizing ligand bias, or functional selectivity, at GPCR targets to produce drugs with improved efficacy and reduced side effect profiles. Trevena was named one of the top 15 US startups of 2008 by Business Week.

Our history is rooted in strong science – Trevena was founded to translate Nobel Prize-winning research into a new generation of groundbreaking medicines. Our lead product candidate is OLINVO™ (oliceridine injection), an innovative new chemical entity that has recently completed Phase 3 pivotal efficacy studies for the management of moderate-to-severe acute pain. OLINVO is designated a breakthrough therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We also have discovered several other product candidates with the potential to address problems across a wide range of therapeutic areas, including moderate-to-severe acute and chronic pain, and migraine. In addition, we have an early-stage portfolio of drug discovery programs currently in lead optimization.

Innovative product candidates for unmet medical needs

Our pipeline consists of innovative product candidates focused in areas of acute care. Our lead product candidate, OLINVO™ (oliceridine injection), is a next-generation IV analgesic in development for the management of moderate-to-severe acute pain. OLINVO has been designated a breakthrough therapy by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration. In February 2017, we announced top-line results from two Phase 3 pivotal efficacy studies testing multiple OLINVO dosing regimens. In both studies, all dose regimens achieved their primary endpoint of statistically greater analgesic efficacy than placebo, as required for FDA approval. In addition, compared to a commonly used IV morphine regimen, patients given one of the tested OLINVO regimens experienced comparable pain relief with numerically less frequent adverse events including vomiting and multiple indicators of respiratory safety – both key unmet needs in acute pain management.

OLINVO was specifically designed to improve on conventional IV opioid pharmacology by binding to the same endorphin receptor as conventional opioids and selectively activating the pathway leading to pain relief, while avoiding a pathway associated with opioid-related adverse effects. Clinical trial results have consistently suggested that OLINVO may provide rapid and effective pain relief while potentially setting a new standard for opioid safety and tolerability. Our pipeline also includes several product candidates we have identified as potential best-in-class or first-in-class therapies to address a variety of serious unmet medical needs. TRV734 has completed Phase 1 studies for the oral treatment of acute and chronic pain; TRV250 is in Phase 1 development for the treatment of migraines; and TRV027 recently was evaluated in a Phase 2b study for the treatment of acute heart failure.

Trevena’s Culture

We believe in our science and in the people that make it possible. As a small company, every employee is critical to our success, and we strive to make sure that every voice is heard. We all sit in an open-plan office with no physical barriers to communication and interaction across disciplines and across levels. The company’s goals, challenges and successes are clearly outlined and we work as one team to make the organization successful.

We empower our employees to make their contribution count. Every employee has an opportunity to impact Trevena’s success and to benefit personally from that success as a shareholder of the company. We work hard but we also have fun. Whether it’s sharing a home-made cake in the break room, running off calories together in Valley Forge park or throwing gutter-balls at Trevena bowling night, there is a strong focus on social as well as scientific interaction. At Trevena, we have built a great team who are committed to ground breaking science and to each other. We involve all key team members in hiring decisions and are delighted that the culture of passion, commitment and fun stays strong as the company continues to grow. We have been designated a Great Place to Work®, a testament to our high-pride and high-performance work culture. The Great Place to Work® recognition program represents 6,200 companies across the world – we are one of only seven small/mid-size biotech companies to be given this distinction.

Let’s meet the thought leader behind Trevena

Maxine Gowen, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer: Dr. Gowen is the founding President and CEO of Trevena. Prior to this Dr. Gowen held a variety of leadership roles at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) over a period of fifteen years. As Senior Vice President for the Center of Excellence for External Drug Discovery (CEEDD), she developed an innovative new approach to externalizing drug discovery in big pharma. Dr. Gowen was previously President and Managing Partner at SR One, the venture capital subsidiary of GSK, where she led its investments in and served on the board of directors of numerous companies. Until 2002 Dr. Gowen was Vice President, Drug Discovery, Musculoskeletal Diseases at GSK, responsible for drug discovery and early development for osteoporosis, arthritis and metastatic bone disease. Dr. Gowen held a tenured academic position in the School of Pharmacology, University of Bath, UK from 1989-1992.

She has authored more than 100 refereed scientific publications. She graduated with a B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Bristol, UK, then received a Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of Sheffield, UK, and received an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gowen served on the board of Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) until its purchase by GSK in July 2012.  She currently serves on the board of Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. (AKBA) since July 2014 and Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (IDRA) since January 2016, both public biopharmaceutical companies, and on the boards of the state and national biotechnology industry associations, Life Sciences PA and BIO, respectively.

“At Trevena, our mission is to deliver innovative solutions to patients and healthcare providers confronting serious medical conditions.”