As­traZeneca castoff draws $123M wa­ger on CX­CR2 an­tag­o­nist as Are­na lines up a buy­out op­tion

Back in 2018, James Mack­ay — then lead­ing an in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­ease group at As­traZeneca af­ter lead­ing the phar­ma gi­ant’s ac­qui­si­tion of Ardea — took in­ter­est in a drug that’d been rel­e­gat­ed to the shelves four years ear­li­er.

Where As­traZeneca once saw a dis­ap­point­ing COPD drug, he saw a Phase II-ready can­di­date that could tack­le a slate of se­ri­ous con­di­tions.

So he grabbed AZD4721, re­named it RIST4721, spun out a new com­pa­ny named Aris­tea Ther­a­peu­tics, re­cruit­ed a bench of ex­pe­ri­enced drug de­vel­op­ers and got $15 mil­lion from No­vo Hold­ings.

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