Pfizer Renews Partnership for Next-Gen Approach to Autoimmune Disease

Pfizer_Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Pfizer struck a collaboration and licensing agreement with Belgium-based Imcyse for a rheumatoid arthritis program, which is based on that company’s Imotope technology.

Pfizer will lead clinical development of the RA program. This is not the first rheumatoid arthritis deal Pfizer and Imcyse have conducted.

In 2018, the companies entered into an agreement to develop an Imotope, which is a specific modified peptide that targets rheumatoid arthritis. The Imcyse Imotope platform represents what the companies believe is a next generation and potentially curative approach to severe autoimmune diseases.

Imotopes are designed to induce cytolytic T cells, which specifically eliminate the aberrant disease pathway while leaving the rest of the immune system unaffected. It is believed that treatment with a specific Imotope has the potential to disrupt the undesirable immune response that drives the process of destruction of the healthy cells.

The two companies will first collaborate to develop existing lead candidates and further optimize potential molecules. Once those candidates have been identified, Pfizer will lead clinical development of the program ad will also lead commercialization activities should the imotopes pass regulatory muster.

Imcyse’s lead program is entering Phase II in Type 1 diabetes, and its multiple sclerosis candidate is expected to begin clinical trials by 2022. Under terms of the 2018 agreement between the two companies, Pfizer performed preclinical evaluations of Imcyse’s Imotopes targeting multiple sclerosis to better understand the mode of action of the technology platform.

"This license agreement constitutes a great endorsement and a sign of confidence in our Imotope technology platform from one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world. We are excited to expand our successful collaboration to develop Imotopes for RA, a prevalent autoimmune disorder. It is our ultimate goal to develop curative treatments for autoimmune disorders for the benefit of patients worldwide. For diseases such as RA, this can be best accomplished with the help of partners such as Pfizer,” Imcyse Chief Executive Officer Denis Bedoret said in a statement.

Under terms of the latest deal, Pfizer will provide an undisclosed upfront cash payment, as well as an undisclosed equity stake in Imcyse. Additionally, the deal includes potential milestone payments of up to $180 million.

Also as part of the deal, Mike Vincent, Pfizer’s senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the Inflammation & Immunology Research Unit will join the Imcyse Scientific Advisory Board.

"I am very pleased to be joining the Scientific Advisory Board of Imcyse and for Pfizer to join in the development of the Imotope technology in the field of RA. Pfizer is committed to addressing the needs of patients in Rheumatology, and the Imcyse technology platform offers a unique scientific approach that we look forward to exploring further,” Vincent said in a statement.

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