Pfizer today awarded a total of $46 million in financing to four early-stage companies whose specialties align with the pharma giant’s core areas of R&D interest.

Pfizer said the financing represented an expansion of its R&D investment strategy, and would be followed by additional investments in the future.

The four companies receiving financing from Pfizer include:

 • 4D Molecular Therapeutics, a gene therapy developer whose Therapeutic Vector Evolution discovery platform is designed for generation of gene vectors optimized for efficient gene delivery and uptake, tissue specificity, and evasion of pre-existing antibodies present in most patients. Pfizer will hold an option to exclusively license one or more adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for selected cardiac disease-related targets.

 • BioAtla, a developer of monoclonal antibodies with profiles as Conditionally Active Biologics (CAB), a new class of biologic therapeutics that are activated in selected microenvironments within the body, such as areas associated with cancerous tumors. BioAtla and Pfizer will each license the other's respective technology to pursue development and commercialization of several drug-conjugated conditionally active antibodies. Pfizer said it will also gain an exclusive option to develop and commercialize BioAtla CAB antibodies against the immuno-oncology target CTLA4.

 • Cortexyme, a developer of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. The company seeks to develop therapeutics based on data supporting a new theory about the underlying cause of Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative disorders, targeting an undisclosed pathogen linked to neurodegeneration. The target has been validated in a number of animal models. Cortexyme is now testing several potential lead therapeutics in preclinical studies.

 • NextCure, a new biopharma that Pfizer helped form that aims to discover and develop new immuno-oncology therapies. NextCure was founded by Michael Richman, former CEO of Amplimmune, who will serve as president and CEO, and Lieping Chen, M.D., Ph.D., United Technologies Endowed Professor of Cancer Research, at Yale School of Medicine. The company will develop product candidates licensed from Dr. Chen’s laboratory using a proprietary platform to discover and develop potential immuno-oncology targets.

Pfizer’s areas of R&D interest include chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, vaccines, oncology, neuroscience and pain, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and rare diseases.

“We look forward to continuing to explore opportunities to bring our resources to emerging companies investigating in areas where we feel we could make a difference for patients,” Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D., president of Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development, said in a statement.

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