Pharma giant Pfizer and Bain Capital teamed up to launch Cerevel Therapeutics, a new biopharmaceutical company based in Boston that will focus on developing therapies to treat central nervous system disorders.
For Pfizer, the move comes nearly a full year after the company announced it was abandoning research and development of new neuroscience programs that included potential therapies for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. With the launch of the new Cerevel, Pfizer will contribute a portfolio of pre-commercial neuroscience assets, including three clinical-stage compounds and several pre-clinical compounds designed to target a broad range of CNS disorders including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, schizophrenia and addiction. Pfizer said the decision to move its neuroscience assets under a new company “was the optimal next step” for its programs.
Bain Capital will contribute $350 million from funds affiliated with Bain Capital Private Equity and Bain Capital Life Sciences. The investment groups said it has the ability to provide additional capital should it be needed in the future.
With the assets from Pfizer and the funds from Bain Capital, Cerevel will focus on developing treatment options in areas where there is an urgent unmet need for patients. The most advanced assets in the portfolio given to Cerevel by Pfizer are a D1 partial agonist which will likely enter Phase III in 2019 to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and a Phase II-ready selective GABA 2/3 agonist which will initially be studied for epilepsy. The company also has active programs in early development, discovery and a research program in neuroinflammation.
In addition to the assets and finances, this morning both Pfizer and Bain said they will support Cerevel in “building a dedicated team of CNS scientists and life sciences executives” who have extensive experience in clinical development of the kinds of neurological and neuropsychological therapies the new company will target.
Under terms of the announcement, Pfizer will retain a 25 percent equity position in Cerevel. Two senior Pfizer executives, Morris Birnbaum, chief scientific officer of internal medicine, and Doug Giordano, head of worldwide business development will serve on the Cerevel Board of Directors. Bain Capital will also place some board members, including Adam Koppel and Chris Gordon, both managing directors.
“We are excited that Cerevel will continue to develop the Pfizer compounds, contributing to the broad scientific understanding of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and fulfilling responsibility to patients with these devastating diseases and their families,” Birnbaum said in a statement.
When Pfizer announced its plan to eliminate the neuroscience R&D ahead of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the company said it was part of an “exercise to re-allocate spend across our portfolio.” Pfizer said the company wanted to use its resources in areas where its “pipeline and scientific expertise” is strongest. When Pfizer pulled the plug on its neuroscience programs, the company indicated it intends to launch a new venture fund focused on neuroscience research. That will work alongside the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund. In June, Pfizer announced that it was placing $600 million in a VC fund, with 25 percent slated for neuroscience.
Bain’s Gordon said Cerevel is dedicated to developing the Pfizer assets.
“The broad portfolio we are investing behind consists of several clinical candidates with unique chemistry to enable specific receptor targeting, which has the potential to drive a differentiated clinical profile,” Bain’s Koppel added in a statement.
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