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Pfizer Boosts Venture Capital Efforts, Neuroscience in Focus

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Pfizer, Inc. (PFE - Free Report) said it plans to invest $600 million in Pfizer Ventures, its venture capital arm. This funding will be invested in small biotechs and other emerging growth companies. About 25% — $150 million — of the newly available fund will be earmarked for companies involved in promising early-stage neuroscience research. Pfizer Ventures will first invest in companies focussed on neuro-degeneration, neuro-inflammation and neuro-metabolic disorders.

Pfizer Ventures already has investments in six neuroscience companies including Aquinnah, Autifony, Cortexyme, MindImmune, MISSION, and Neuronetics. In 2015, Pfizer became part of the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), which was formed to speed up the development of new treatments for neurological diseases by bringing together major pharma companies, the U.K. government and Alzheimer’s Research UK. The fund is involved in the financing of new, early stage drug development projects. Since its launch in October 2015, DDF has raised more than $190 million, which has been invested in dementia drug discovery companies and projects. Other investors in DDF include Biogen (BIIB - Free Report) , Eli Lilly (LLY - Free Report) and Glaxo (GSK - Free Report) , among others.

Other than neuroscience, the venture capital arm’s area of interest will include oncology, inflammation and immunology, rare disease, internal medicine and vaccines. Pfizer Ventures, which manages more than 40 companies currently, will have five new members.  Pfizer has already invested $500 million in the venture capital arm. With the latest funding, the total assets under management add up to more than $1 billion. 

This year so far, Pfizer’s shares have increased 0.4% against a decrease of 4.6% for the industry.

Ironically, the news comes in less than six months after Pfizer said that it will drop its plans to develop treatments for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. These are highly challenging areas with not much progress being made despite significant investments (funds as well as resources).

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

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