Pfizer inks $340M rare disease pact with GlycoMimetics

Demonstrating its deep interest in the future of rare diseases, Pfizer ($PFE) has signed on to partner with Gaithersburg, MD-based GlycoMimetics on its lead drug program for sickle cell disease, promising up to $340 million in a broad array of milestones and an unspecified upfront payment. The partnership will bring in Pfizer on the development of GMI-1070, an inflammation inhibitor that researchers have been studying in a Phase II trial for the painful vaso-occlusive crises that threaten the organs of sickle cell patients.

Pfizer gains worldwide commercial rights to the treatment under the deal, with GlycoMimetics staying in charge of the Phase II trial and then turning it over to the development team at Pfizer for further studies. "This experimental compound and partnership are emblematic of our strategy in rare disease, targeting areas of high unmet need to deliver improved patient outcomes," says Yvonne Greenstreet, the pharma giant's senior vice president and head of the Medicines Development Group.  

GMI-1070 is also being evaluated in preclinical studies for other diseases, including hematologic malignancies, "where selectin-mediated cell adhesion and migration is known to play a key role in the disease process."

Almost two years ago Genzyme Ventures joined an A-list group of venture companies backing GlycoMimetics with a $38 million round. New Enterprise Associates, The Novartis Venture Fund, Anthem Capital and Alliance Technology Ventures joined the round, which was earmarked for its mid-stage program.

- here's the press release