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Pfizer signs $900m-plus deal with WAVE for metabolic R&D

Will collaborate on five programmes to explore the cause of genetically defined diseases
Pfizer

Pfizer has bolstered its metabolic disease R&D with a $911m collaboration with WAVE Life Sciences focusing on nucleic acid-based therapies.

Under the terms of the deal the US pharma giant is making an upfront payment of $40m - which includes a $30m equity investment at a price of $16 per share - in WAVE, which specialises in genetically-targeted medicines.

In return WAVE advance up to five programmes from the discovery stage through to the selection of clinical candidates for Pfizer, which will have exclusive licensing options for the portfolio.

WAVE focuses on the development of antisense and RNA interference (RNAi) drugs that switch off the production of proteins, with an emphasis on tackling the underlying mechanisms of disease.

This approach will be combined with a liver-targeting delivery technology in development at Pfizer that involves binding RNA drugs to the amno acid N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc). The deal gives WAVE scope to use GalNAc in certain projects that lie outside the limits of the collaboration.

Two therapeutic targets, including WAVE's lead apolipoprotein C-III programme, have already been selected, and the remaining three will be identified in the next 18 months, according to the partners. Both are still at the preclinical stage of development.

If all five programmes reach commercialisation, WAVE could pocket up to $871m in milestone payments as well as tiered royalties on sales.

Commenting on the deal, Morris Birnbaum, chief scientific officer at Pfizer's cardiovascular and metabolic research unit, said: "By working together to develop unique proprietary technologies emerging from both companies, we will explore new liver-targeted approaches to address the cause of genetically defined diseases and interrupt the progression of complex metabolic disorders."

WAVE is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just a stone's throw away from Pfizer's cardiovascular and metabolic diseases (CVMED) research unit.

The big pharma company's in-house research in this area is currently focused on diabetes candidate ertugliflozin (in phase III), partnered with Merck & Co, as well as PDE-5 inhibitor PF-00489791 for diabetic nephropathy (phase II).

However, it has suffered some pipeline casualties in CVMED of late, including glucokinase activator PF-04937319 and acetyl-CoA carboxylase inhibitor PF-05175157.

Article by
Phil Taylor

6th May 2016

From: Research, Sales

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