Pfizer Invests in Four Early-Stage Companies
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Pfizer has expanded its research & development (R&D) investment strategy to include early-stage companies to provide both equity and access to resources for research in promising areas aligned with Pfizer's core interests. The first four investments of the newly focused initiative include $46 million in financing to companies at early stages of the discovery process that are actively exploring conditionally active biologics (CABs), immuno-oncology, neurodegenerative technologies, and gene therapy. Additional opportunities will continue to be identified by Pfizer's scientific leadership, and Pfizer will help recipient companies explore their platforms in the hopes of advancing new therapeutic pathways.

Pfizer is announcing investments in four companies: BioAlta, NextCure Inc., Cortexyme, Inc., and 4D Molecular Therapeutics, Inc.. BioAtla employs expertise in protein engineering to develop monoclonal antibodies with CAB profiles, a new class of biologic therapeutics that are activated in selected microenvironments within the body, such as those associated with cancerous tumors. As part of the agreement, BioAtla and Pfizer will each have a license to the other’s respective technology to pursue the development and commercialization of several drug-conjugated conditionally-active antibodies. Pfizer also gains an exclusive option to develop and commercialize BioAtla CAB antibodies that target CTLA4, an immuno-oncology target in humans.

NextCure Inc., a new biopharmaceutical company Pfizer helped to form, is focused on the discovery and development of immuno-oncology therapeutic products. NextCure was founded by Michael Richman, former CEO of Amplimmune, Inc., who will serve as president and CEO, and Lieping Chen, MD, PhD., United Technologies Endowed Professor of Cancer Research, Professor of Immunobiology, Dermatology, and Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. The company will develop product candidates licensed from Dr. Chen's laboratory utilizing a proprietary platform to discover and develop potential novel immuno-oncology targets.

Cortexyme, Inc. is developing novel treatments that aim to alter the course of neurodegenerative diseases. The company is seeking to develop therapeutics based on data supporting a new theory about the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative disorders, targeting a specific, undisclosed pathogen linked to neurodegeneration. The target has been validated in a number of animal models, and Cortexyme is currently testing several potential lead therapeutics in preclinical studies.

4D Molecular Therapeutics, Inc., an emerging biopharmaceutical company, is working to design, develop, and commercialize potentially transformative gene therapy products for serious unmet medical conditions. The company's Therapeutic Vector Evolution discovery platform allows for the generation of gene vectors that are optimized for efficient gene delivery and uptake, tissue specificity, and evasion of pre-existing antibodies present in most patients. With this investment, Pfizer has been granted an option to exclusively license one or more adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for selected cardiac disease-related targets.

Pfizer said that this expanded R&D investment strategy is focused on high-priority therapeutic areas of research where Pfizer is best positioned to bring unique, high-impact therapies to patients not well-served by current treatments. Particular areas meeting these criteria include chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, vaccines, oncology, neuroscience and pain, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and rare diseases.

Source: Pfizer

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