Pfizer, Flagship Team Up in $100M R&D Pact: 10 New Drugs for Unmet Needs

Pfizer, Flagship Team Up in 0M R&D Pact: 10 New Drugs for Unmet Needs
Pfizer, Flagship Team Up in 0M R&D Pact: 10 New Drugs for Unmet Needs

Pharmaceutical companies frequently strike deals with smaller biotech companies as a way to build up their drug pipelines, and Pfizer is no exception. But in a twist to this strategy, the pharma giant is now turning to Flagship Pioneering, the venture capital firm whose highest profile creation might be the messenger RNA company Moderna.

The alliance announced Tuesday calls for Flagship and Pfizer to each invest $50 million up front. The cash will go toward the R&D of 10 single-asset programs. Flagship does not create single-asset companies. The startups that spring from its labs are all formed around platform technologies, each with the capability of yielding multiple assets for that company and for potential partners.

The alliance will leverage the capabilities of the more than 40 companies in Flagship’s portfolio. Flagship companies typically bring computational approaches to interrogate some aspect of biology. Ampersand Biomedicines is exploring ways to improve drug delivery to avoid off-target effects. Metaphore Biotechnologies leverages the concept of biomimicrythen applies computational analysis to speed up the drug discovery process. Flagship’s most recently launched startup, Empress Biomedicines, uses artificial intelligence to identify promising small molecule drug candidates sourced from the human body itself.

Pfizer will specifically collaborate with Pioneering Medicines, a strategic initiative within Flagship dedicated to conceiving and developing new therapies that harness the various scientific platforms represented in the Flagship ecosystem. This initiative is already working with other entities in similar drug research deals. Pioneering Medicines’ external partners include Novo Nordisk and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Pfizer and Flagship did not disclose specific disease areas of their pact, but they said the focus will be on unmet needs that fit within the pharma giant’s core strategic areas of interest. They added that those areas include broad patient populations and diseases with high potential to benefit from a diverse range of technology platforms and drug modalities.

If Pfizer exercises its option to acquire any programs created under the partnership, the pharma giant will fund further development. Flagship and its companies will be eligible to receive up to $700 million in milestone payments and royalties for each program that Pfizer acquires.

“This new partnership brings together the best of our organizations to maximize discovery and development potential from inception to impact through a unique innovation supply chain that sets us on a path to potentially realize transformational medicines more quickly and effectively,” Pioneering Medicines President Paul Bionidi said in a prepared statement.

Photo: Dominick Reuter/AFP, via Getty Images

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