Pfizer taps Bain Capital for $350m to create neuro-focused biotech

By Maggie Lynch

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/movus)
(Image: Getty/movus)

Related tags Neurology Neuron Biotech companies Investment Alzheimer Alzheimer's disease Pfizer Parkinson's disease psychosis Epilepsy

Pfizer has entered into an investment agreement with Bain Capital to spinout its neuroscience portfolio into a jointly-led company.

After a $350m (€306m) investment from Bain Capital, the two companies have created Cereval Therapeutics. The new company will focus on neuroscience and neuropsychiatry, inheriting 10 programs from Pfizer, three of which are already in clinical trials.

Pfizer announced in January​ that it was leaving the discovery and early clinical development of neuroscience, yet has found a solution to remain within the field – by holding a 25% stake in the newly-created company focused on neuroscience development.

Pfizer will have two directors on the new company’s board: Doug Giordano will serve as senior VP of worldwide business development, and Morris Birnbaum, CSO of internal medicine. Adam Koppel and Chris Gordon of Bain Capital will also join the board.

This portfolio will include a symptomatic treatment for Parkinson’s disease, a targeted psychosis treatment, a treatment for difficult epilepsy populations, an opioid abuse disorder drug, a disease-modifying treatment for Parkinson’s, a nicotine abuse treatment, and a few others focused in the area of neuroscience and neuropsychiatry.

According to Patricia Kelly senior director of Communications at Pfizer, the most advanced assets Cereval will receive in its portfolio are a D1 partial agonist, which should enter a Phase III trial in 2019. The D1 partial agonist was developed to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The company will also receive an asset from Pfizer that is in Phase II – a ready selective GABA 2/3 agonist that will initially be studied for epilepsy.

Focused research from focused funding

Kelly explained that Pfizer believes putting assets in a neuro-focused company is the right environment to advance research for potential therapies.

“This was part of Pfizer’s plan for a set of our neuroscience assets—to participate financially and strategically in neuroscience research and advance meaningful therapies to target Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kelly.

“Cerevel was formed with Series A Funding financing of $350 million from Bain Capital’s Private Equity and Life Sciences businesses.”

This has not been the first offshoot into a focused therapeutics company Pfizer has created. Last year, Pfizer created Springworks Therapeutics​, and again Bain Capital was among the company’s investors, putting in $103 million in initial funding.

However, Alzheimer’s and the broader neuroscience area pose unique difficulties in development. According to a recent PhRMA report​, between 1998 and 2017, 146 investigational medicines in clinical development for Alzheimer’s therapies have been suspended or put on hold without approval.

Yet, researchers said in the report that recent, more focused development has allowed for a new pipeline of 92 treatments to enter development.

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