Af­ter a 33-year odyssey, Jef­frey Blue­stone grabs a ring­side seat to watch his drug teplizum­ab go back in­to the clin­ic

Back in the fall of 2010, Eli Lil­ly wast­ed lit­tle time scut­tling a slate of late-stage stud­ies and walk­ing away from a bil­lion-dol­lar de­vel­op­ment deal as the phar­ma gi­ant abrupt­ly aban­doned its di­a­betes drug teplizum­ab af­ter watch­ing the first piv­otal go down in flames.

But when Lil­ly — then suf­fer­ing one of the worst R&D droughts in its his­to­ry — aban­doned the drug and hand­ed it all back to Macro­Gen­ics, which put it on the shelf and left it there, one sci­en­tist kept the faith.

Jef­frey Blue­stone had start­ed work­ing on teplizum­ab in his lab in 1986, and he had lots of unan­swered ques­tions about the drug.

“It was as hard for me as any­one who was pas­sion­ate about it, as might be ex­pect­ed,” says Blue­stone.

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