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Pfizer (PFE) Partners Beam Therapeutics for Rare Disease Drugs

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Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) signed an exclusive four-year research collaboration with gene editing company, Beam Therapeutics (BEAM - Free Report) to develop in-vivo base editing therapies for three targets for rare genetic diseases of the liver, muscle and central nervous system.

The potentially transformative base editing therapies will be developed by leveraging Beam Therapeutics’ proprietary in vivo messenger RNA (mRNA) and lipid nanoparticles (LNP) delivery technologies for indications with critical unmet needs.

Per the deal, Beam Therapeutics will lead research activities for the three targets until development candidate selection, after which Pfizer will have the option to obtain exclusive, worldwide licenses to each development candidate. Pfizer will then be responsible for further development of the candidate as well as its potential regulatory approvals and commercialization. Beam Therapeutics has retained an option to co-develop and co-commercialize one of the programs. If Beam Therapeutics exercises this option, Pfizer and Beam will share costs as well as profits for this program in a 65%/35% ratio.

For the partnership, Beam will receive an upfront payment of $300 million while also being eligible to receive future milestone payments of up to $1.05 billion.

Pfizer’s stock has risen 54.9% in the past year compared with an increase of 20.8% for the industry.

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However, Beam’s stock declined 2.5% on Monday in response to the deal. In the past year, Beam Therapeutics’ shares have declined 26.4% compared with the industry’s decrease of 30.3% in the same time frame.

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The deal with Beam Therapeutics builds on Pfizer’s success with it and partner BioNTech’s (BNTX - Free Report) mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, last week, Pfizer and BioNTech signed a new collaboration to develop an mRNA-based vaccine for the prevention of shingles, a painful and disfiguring disease.

Clinical studies on the mRNA-based shingles vaccine are expected to begin in the second half of 2022. The companies will make the vaccine by leveraging Pfizer’s antigen technology and BioNTech's proprietary mRNA platform technology, which has been used to make their successful COVID-19 vaccine.

Beam, which started trading as a public company in February 2020, uses gene-editing technology to develop treatments for rare genetic diseases. Its most advanced drug candidate, BEAM-101 for sickle-cell disease is expected to enter phase I/II study later this year. Management expects to enroll the first subject in the study in the second half of 2022.

Pfizer sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Beam Therapeutics has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Another top-ranked stock from the same space is AbbVie (ABBV - Free Report) , which has a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy). AbbVie’s stock has risen 31.2% in the past year.

Estimates for AbbVie’s 2022 earnings have gone up from $13.99 to $14.09 over the past 60 days.

AbbVie’s earnings performance has been strong with the company exceeding earnings expectations in each of the last four quarters. AbbVie has a four-quarter earnings surprise of 3.02%, on average.