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Pfizer Inks Deals with Firms Working on Sickle Cell and Alzheimer's

From Day, The (New London, CT) (October 12, 2011)

Oct. 12--Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. has signed deals with two companies -- one studying sickle cell disease and another making inroads in Alzheimer's research -- in an effort to boost its pipeline of new medications.

New York-based Pfizer, which has its largest worldwide research site in Groton, revealed Tuesday a new partnership with GlycoMimetics Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md. The deal will pay up to $340 million for licensing rights to GMI-1070, an inflammation inhibitor currently in mid-stage studies to treat the potentially life-threatening effects of blood-vessel obstructions associated with sicle cell disease.

"This experimental compound and partnership are emblematic of our strategy in rare disease, targeting areas of high unmet need to deliver improved patient outcomes," Yvonne Greenstreet, a Pfizer senior vice president, said in a statement.

Pfizer also has inked a deal with France-based Exonhit, which has a subsidiary in Gaitherburg, Md. The research agreement calls for Pfizer to utilize new Alzheimer's disease indicators that Exonhit has isolated using its proprietary Genome-Wide SpliceArray technology.

"The purpose of the research work is to seek to identify progression and other biomarkers that could segregate healthy elderly controls, patients with mild cognitive impairment ... and patients with AD," according to an Exonhit news release. No financial details were released on Pfizer's Exonhit deal.

The deal with GlycoMimetics gives Pfizer worldwide commercial rights to the experimental medication if it gains regulatory approval. GlycoMimetics remains in charge of midstage trials before turning the drug over to Pfizer's development team in Groton for further studies in hopes of eventual commercialization.

In addition to being seen as a possible treatment related to sickle cell disease, GMI-1070 is being studied as a treatment for other conditions, including blood malignancies.

"GMI-1070 has received orphan drug and fast track status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration," according to a GlycoMimetics release.

The blood-vessel obstructions targeted by GMI-1070 affect more than 75,000 people every year in the United States. "These crises cause pain and tissue damage leading to multiple organ damage, a requirement for life-long narcotic pain medications, and eventually to significantly shorter life spans," the news release stated.


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Posted: October 2011