Aristea, AstraZeneca Spin-Off, Forced to Close After Safety Concerns Halt Flagship Program

Aristea Therapeutics has made the difficult decision to terminate its Phase II lead program RIST4721 due to safety concerns, resulting in the dissolution of its business. The San Diego-based biotech sadly announced its decision on Friday.

After a long and thorough exploration of strategic alternatives, the board of Aristea has made the difficult yet sound decision to end the company’s operations, according to a statement from James Mackay, Ph.D., president and CEO of Aristea. This decision was not taken lightly and was only arrived at after careful consideration.

Aristea, the biopharma spin-out from AstraZeneca, launched in December 2018 with a $15 million Series A funding injection to develop novel treatments against severe inflammatory conditions. After years of research, the company is determined to rehome molecules and make a real difference in the lives of those suffering from such ailments.

At ValiRx, our mission is to breathe new life into molecules that have been overlooked or abandoned by big pharma and biotech companies. We work to take molecules that have gone through preclinical development and move them into clinical trials, giving them a second chance at success. With our innovative approach, we are creating new opportunities to develop treatments and therapies that could benefit countless lives.

Novo Holdings, a private limited liability company within the Novo Nordisk group, has stepped in to show its support for the startup by investing in it. With its backing, the startup is now one step closer to achieving its goals.

Aristea recently secured exclusive global rights to its lead asset, RIST4721, from AstraZeneca. This promising candidate is an antagonist of the CXCR2 protein and is set to undertake Phase II assessments in palmoplantar pustulosis. Enrollment into this study was successfully completed in October 2019, marking a major milestone for the company.

Palmoplantar pustulosis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the palms and feet, resulting in painful, itchy and burning pustules. Fortunately, a new treatment known as RIST4721 has been proposed that could help relieve these symptoms by targeting the CXCR2 molecule, which is responsible for recruiting neutrophils to the affected areas. With this innovative approach, sufferers of palmoplantar pustulosis may soon find much-needed relief.

In July 2021, Aristea’s RIST4721 candidate saw a massive funding injection of $63 million as part of its Series B financing round. This investment was led by Novo Holdings and was joined by Arena Pharmaceuticals and Tekla Capital Management. This infusion of capital will be used to further progress the candidate through the clinic and build out the leadership team, as well as create new strategic partnerships.

Aristea recently sealed a strategic collaboration with Arena Pharmaceuticals, a Pfizer unit. The deal grants Arena exclusive option to acquire Aristea and all its CXCR2 programs post-Phase II, in exchange for a $60 million upfront payment and an additional $10 million in equity investments. The agreement was made in conjunction with a funding round that will help fuel the development of Aristea’s cutting-edge programs.

Friday’s announcement from Aristea brought about a disappointing result for the much-anticipated RIST4721 drug trial- safety concerns forced the company to abandon the project. In an email to BioSpace, a company representative stated that they had no more information to provide regarding the safety issues. This news was heartbreaking to those looking forward to a potential breakthrough in the medical field.

Before its demise, Aristea had initiated trials of its renowned RIST4721 drug for the treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa, familial Mediterranean fever, and Behcet’s disease. What’s more, the company had been working on two other CXCR2 antagonists, RIST5122 and RIST8309, to combat undisclosed medical conditions.

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