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Nov 22, 2011

Pfizer to Pick Up Antisense Firm Excaliard

  • Pfizer will acquire Excaliard Pharmaceuticals for its pipeline of antisense oligonucleotide drug candidates. Excaliard has one Phase II-stage and four preclinical molecules all focused on skin fibrosis.

    “The acquisition of Excaliard is part of our corporate research and development strategy to actively complement our robust internal project pipeline with innovative and differentiated drugs from biotech partners,” says Mikael Dolsten, president, worldwide research and development, Pfizer.

    Pfizer will pay an up-front fee as well as success-based milestones, with Isis Pharmaceuticals getting a portion of that money. Isis Pharmaceuticals is an equity owner of Excaliard and granted Excaliard an exclusive, worldwide license agreement for the development and commercialization of certain antisense drugs including EXC 001.

    “We began Excaliard just four years ago with closing the Series A financing,” notes Gordon Foulkes, Excaliard’s CEO. Series A brought in $15.5 million, and Foulkes, who is part of ProQuest Investments, which co-led the round, joined Excaliard’s board. “Since that time,” Foulkes adds, “using a virtual organization and maximum outsourcing, we were able to move from lead generation to the completion of three Phase II trials.”

    Excaliard’s lead product, EXC 001, is designed to interrupt the process of fibrosis by inhibiting expression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). CTGF can reportedly be overexpressed in damaged skin or tissue following surgery or traumatic injury and lead to disfiguring skin scarring. The Phase II program for EXC 001 has thus far produced positive clinical results in reducing scar severity.

    “The science behind Excaliard’s lead compound aligns well with our R&D focus on new treatments for fibrosis and tissue remodeling,” comments Jose-Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, svp, biotherapeutics, worldwide research and development, Pfizer. Pfizer has a small molecule Phase II liver fibrosis drug. “We view EXC 001 as being well positioned to potentially become a novel, transformative therapy in a space with limited available treatment options.”

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