New company targets CNS disorders

Brain Biopharma

US pharma giant Pfizer and private equity firm Bain Capital have joined forces to create  Cerevel Therapeutics, a new privately held biopharmaceutical company. The new company aims to develop drugs to treat central nervous system (CNS) disorders. In addition to securing $350 million from funds affiliated with Bain Capital Private Equity and Bain Capital Life Sciences, there will be further capital available if needed in the future.

New York-based Pfizer, which will hold a 25 percent stake in Cerevel Therapeutics, is providing a portfolio of pre-commercial neuroscience assets, including three clinical-stage compounds and various pre-clinical compounds to target multiple CNS disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, schizophrenia and addiction. The new company is designed to provide treatment options in a therapeutic area with urgent unmet needs. Two Pfizer executives – Morris Birnbaum, chief scientific officer of internal medicine, and Doug Giordano, senior vice president of worldwide business development – are part of Cerevel’s board of directors.

According to an article by Alaric Dearment in MedCity News, “The current pipeline, consisting of drugs created by Pfizer, includes three clinical-stage candidates – a D1 partial agonist for Parkinson’s, a GABA 2/3 agonist for epilepsy and a muscarinic M4 positive modulator – and several preclinical ones. Modulation of M4 msucarinic receptors has been investigated as a potential mechanism of action for use in schizophrenia. The preclinical candidates include a dopamine D3 antagonist and a kappa opiate antagonist in candidate-stage development, and an M4 agonist, a PDE4b inhibitor and an LRRK2 inhibitor in lead development.”

Pfizer said that putting the set of neuroscience assets in a company with dedicated focus and expertise in CNS was the optimal next step after halting its own research in CNS in January, according to Pharmaceutical Business Review. After stopping that research, Pfizer announced in June that it had bolstered the funding pool of its venture capital arm by $600 million, one-quarter of which was devoted to neuroscience. As Pfizer senior vice president, internal medicine chief scientific officer Morris Birnbaum explained, “We are excited that Cerevel will continue to develop the Pfizer compounds, contributing to the broad scientific understanding of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and fulfilling responsibility to patients with these devastating diseases and their families.”

As Bain Capital Life Sciences managing director Adam Koppel stated, “We are dedicated to developing this promising portfolio of assets thoughtfully and will provide the right resources to enable Cerevel to build an experienced leadership team that is committed to developing life changing therapies for patients who are struggling with CNS diseases. The broad portfolio we are investing behind consists of several clinical candidates with unique chemistry to enable specific receptor targeting, which has the potential to drive a differentiated clinical profile.”