Developing a novel therapeutic agent for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency

Z Factor is a University of Cambridge spin-out company founded by Jim Huntington, Professor of Molecular Haemostasis at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD) is a significant cause of liver and lung disease and results from a defect in the gene encoding Alpha-1-antitrypsin, the most common of which is called the Z mutation. Z Factor was founded in order to develop a novel small molecule treatment for AATD.

Founder: Professor Jim Huntington
CIC oversight: Robert Tansley
Year of investment: 2017

Investment thesis

  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a genetic condition that results in insufficient production and/or function of the protein AAT which can lead to serious lung and liver disease.
  • Based on insights around the structure of the Z mutation associated with AATD, Prof Jim Hungtington initiated a program of rational drug design to correct the misfolding and prevent the development of associated diseases


  • In February 2021, Z Factor was acquired in a share exchange by Centessa Pharmaceuticals (, a multi-asset R&D company which raised $250 million to further the R&D of its pipeline of assets
  • In May 2021, Centessa raised a further $330 million in an IPO on Nasdaq