Pfizer Ventures Renews Focus on Brain Research

After their decision to back off from brain research in early 2018, drug developer Pfizer has decided to give it another go with the creation of a new company called Cerevel Therapeutics. Pfizer Ventures, the venture capital arm of the company, has partnered with Bain Capital to investigate new ways to treat Parkinson’s and other central nervous system diseases.

After suffering from several setbacks in their own efforts to advance therapeutic treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the pharmaceutical company announced they were shutting down their in-house neuroscience research division. However, that wasn’t Pfizer’s final play. “We did not feel that [neuroscience] was an area we wanted to totally walk away from,” Barb Dalton, the Vice President of Pfizer’s worldwide business development team and senior managing partner at Pfizer Ventures, said in an interview.

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A year later, the company has decided to recommit to the cause through their investment arm, Pfizer Ventures (PV). Established in 2004, PV invests in private businesses at all stages of development but focuses on early phase opportunities. Cerevel’s pipeline is comprised of Pfizer’s programs, including three clinical and multiple preclinical assets. PV will retain a 25% stake in the Boston-based company while Bain’s $350 million will buy it majority ownership and seats on the Board.

Pfizer Ventures chooses investment opportunities that align with their current portfolio and their recent partnership with Bain Capital to create Cerevel is evidence of just that. The firm holds over eighty investments with most based in the United States. With a recent $600 million commitment from Pfizer for private investments, PV has been actively looking for new opportunities that suit Pfizer’s strategic aim for the future.

In November, PV partnered with Bessemer Venture Partners and 6 Dimensions Capital to raise $65 million in a Series B financing for Kymera Therapeutics.  Their promising research into the body’s ability to recycle protein may contribute to the development of new therapies that could degrade dysregulated, disease-causing proteins.

“We are delighted to have the support of this exceptional group of both new and existing investors and experts that share our vision and excitement on our progress to date,” said Lauren Audoly, President and CEO of Kymera Therapeutics. “In the last year, we’ve made great strides in building preclinical data packages supporting both the drug-like properties of our assets and their differentiated pharmacology. This rapid advancement has been enabled by our focused investment in Kymera’s industry-leading protein degradation platform and a stellar team of drug hunters and seasoned executives.”