Pfizer creates a new R&D unit for rare diseases

Following in the footsteps of GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer has set up a new research unit that will be devoted to developing new biologics to treat rare diseases. And the global pharma company has put Edward Mascioli, M.D., the founder and CEO of life sciences private equity firm Dapis Capital, in charge.

The Rare Diseases Research Unit will be based in Cambridge, MA, home to one of the world's largest clusters of biotech companies. The new unit has been given a broad mission: "pursue treatments across all therapeutic areas and modalities and... as the focal point for the company's existing research on rare diseases."

"We are coupling Pfizer's existing experience in rare diseases, such as hemophilia, with our advanced protein technologies, resources and world-class scientific team to focus on becoming a driving force in rare disease research," said Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, PhD, senior vice president, BioTherapeutics Research and Development. "Pfizer has a long history in discovering, developing and commercializing medicines that treat rare diseases."

Glaxo launched its special unit for rare diseases back in early February and swiftly started to ratchet up new collaborations to help feed the pipeline. It looks like developers working in the space will have a new potential partner with deep pockets to talk to.

- here's the Pfizer release