Pfizer Inc. and Excaliard Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Pfizer will acquire Excaliard, a privately owned biopharmaceutical company focused on developing novel drugs for the treatment of skin fibrosis, more commonly referred to as skin scarring. The acquisition is expected to close before the end of the year.
Excaliard’s lead product, EXC 001, an antisense oligonucleotide in phase 2, is designed to interrupt the process of fibrosis by inhibiting expression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). CTGF is a growth factor that can be over expressed in damaged skin or tissue following surgery or traumatic injury and lead to disfiguring skin scarring. The phase 2 program for EXC 001 has thus far produced positive clinical results in reducing scar severity.
Upon completion of the acquisition, Pfizer plans to continue development of EXC 001 to address unmet medical needs in patient groups who suffer from excessive skin scarring. Currently, there are no FDA-approved products to reduce scar severity.
“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,” said Mikael Dolsten, president, Worldwide Research and Development, Pfizer.
Jose-Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, senior vice president, Biotherapeutics, Worldwide Research and Development, Pfizer, added: “The science behind Excaliard’s lead compound aligns well with our R&D focus on new treatments for fibrosis and tissue remodeling. We view EXC 001 as being well positioned to potentially become a novel, transformative therapy in a space with limited available treatment options.”
Gordon Foulkes, Excaliard’s CEO, said: “We are all excited about Pfizer becoming the company to move our drug forward. We began Excaliard just four years ago with closing the Series A financing. Since that time, using a virtual organization and maximum outsourcing, we were able to move from lead generation to the completion of three Phase 2 trials. The whole team has just done a fantastic job.”
While specific financial terms are confidential, Pfizer will provide to Excaliard an upfront payment and contingent payments if certain milestones are achieved. Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is an equity owner of Excaliard and has granted Excaliard an exclusive worldwide license agreement for the development and commercialization of certain antisense drugs, including EXC 001. As such, Isis will receive a portion of the upfront and milestone payments paid by Pfizer to Excaliard.
About Skin Scarring
In the U.S. alone, there are over 35 million surgical procedures annually. Despite the best surgical technique and post-operative wound care, many procedures result in undesirable skin scarring. In addition to fine-line scarring, scars can be raised (hypertrophic) or even grow beyond the original site of injury (keloids). The prevalence of hypertrophic scarring has been reported to be as high as 70% in certain populations.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that over 5 million reconstructive procedures were performed in the US in 2009 and well over 1.5 million cosmetic surgical procedures. In addition, opportunities exist in other non-cosmetic surgical scars such as Caesarian sections (1.3 million/yr in the US), as well as trauma and burn patients.