Pfizer, Flagship Pioneering to Target Obesity Treatments Under 2023 Partnership

Pictured: Signage at Pfizer's office in Canada

Pictured: Signage at Pfizer’s office in Canada

iStock, JHVEPhoto

Building on last year’s potential $7 billion partnership with Flagship Pioneering, Pfizer and Flagship-founded ProFound Therapeutics will work on discovering new obesity candidates.

Pictured: Pfizer’s signage outside its office in Canada/iStock, JHVEPhoto

ProFound Therapeutics, a Flagship Pioneering-founded company, announced Wednesday that it will conduct research on potential first-in-class therapies for the treatment of obesity with Pfizer as part of a potential $7 billion collaboration with Flagship unveiled last year.

According to Flagship, its in-house drug discovery and development unit Pioneering Medicines will lead the partnership with Pfizer. ProFound will use its proprietary platform alongside Pioneering Medicine to find new proteins and evaluate them for treating obesity. ProFound’s platform uses protein detection technologies to find and validate proteins and determine their therapeutic potential.

Per the latest agreement, Pfizer will have the option to advance selected research programs under the terms of the strategic partnership announced in 2023 between Pfizer and Flagship, which will allow the pharma to add up to 10 new medicines to its pipeline. Both companies contributed an upfront investment of $50 million, while Flagship and its respective entities can receive up to $700 million in milestones and royalties for each program on the market, giving the deal a total potential value of $7 billion.

“Since launching this unique alliance between Flagship and Pfizer we have been working together to rapidly build out a portfolio of exploration programs,” Paul Biondi, Flagship executive partner and president of Pioneering Medicines said in a statement. “This agreement will enable ProFound to explore how its pioneering platform can tackle unmet needs in obesity.”

The original deal between Pfizer and Flagship was also meant to discover candidates in several areas, such as rare diseases, oncology, vaccines, inflammation and immunology. However, according to Charlotte Allerton, Pfizer’s head of discovery and early development, given that obesity will impact 1.9 billion people globally by 2035, it is “critical to continue breakthrough discovery research” that can find new therapies.

“This agreement, the first under our broader strategic partnership with Flagship, is designed to push the boundaries of science to potentially unlock new protein therapeutics for obesity leveraging ProFound’s proprietary discovery platform,” Allerton said in a statement.

Flagship is also working with another pharma in the obesity space. In May, Flagship and Metaphore Biotechnologies inked a research collaboration with Novo Nordisk to find new therapies for obesity management. The terms of the agreement will see Novo paying up to $600 million in upfront, development and commercial milestone payments and royalties on net sales. Novo is also reimbursing R&D costs and participating in a future financing round for Metaphore.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at Follow him on LinkedIn.