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Pfizer helps fund biotech venture from former researchers at closed Kent facility

Ziarco headed by former Pfizer chief scientific officer, allergy and respiratory research, Mike Yeadon

Pfizer is to help fund research by Ziarco, a recently launch UK biotech headed by a scientist formerly at Pfizer's research centre in Kent, UK.

Ziarco's CEO Dr Mike Yeadon was chief scientific officer, allergy and respiratory research, during his time at Pfizer, before the US pharma firm announced last year it would leave the facility.

Dr Yeadon and his fellow ex-Pfizer colleagues Dr Steve Liu, Dr Lynn Purkins and Dr Arif Shivji, set up Ziarco not long after the announcement, with the intention of continuing efforts into developing innovative therapies that target inflammatory and allergic diseases.

Ziarco has now secured $6m (£3.75m) of funding through the Biotechnology Value Fund and Pfizer Venture Investments, the venture capital arm of Pfizer.

The biotech will also obtain the exclusive worldwide rights to commercialise several Pfizer-owned investigational compounds, with Pfizer to receive equity and milestone payments.

This pipeline includes ZPL-389378, an oral histamine H4 receptor (H4R) antagonist, which has completed phase I studies in both single and multiple ascending dose forms.

According to Ziarco's VP and chief scientific officer, this therapy “could potentially be used to treat several major diseases, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, pain and a variety of inflammatory skin conditions”.

In addition, Ziarco is also currently investigating ZPL-5212372, a topical cytosolic phosholipase A2 (cPLA2) inhibitor, which has potential in several lung, nose, eye and skin conditions, while oral histamine H3 receptor antagonist is being developed for the treatment of  allergic rhinitis.

"Ziarco was founded to address the significant need that still exists for new, more effective ways to treat disorders underpinned by inflammatory and allergic pathobiology,” said Dr Yeadon.

“Each programme in development at Ziarco has the potential to be a first-in-class therapeutic and because they target critical points within inflammatory and allergic pathways they offer treatment options for diverse and difficult to manage diseases.”

Ziarco is not the only company to emerge from Pfizer's decision to shut down its research operations in Kent, with several former staff members previously deciding to launch The Research Network, described by its CEO, Andrew McElroy, as "a bit like a dating agency for scientists".

5th November 2012

From: Research

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