Pfizer Inc., a major biopharmaceutical company, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation have signed a license for human embryonic stem cell patents for the development of new drug therapies.
The WARF license provides Pfizer the rights to work with hES cells for drug research and discovery. Securing appropriate licenses, in an area as broad and rapidly moving as regenerative medicine, helps ensure rapid and efficient utilization of the many existing discoveries and inventions in this field and allows for the efficient transfer of information for development of future inventions.
“Our license with WARF provides us with information and materials that will allow us to use their cell lines to explore a whole new range of therapies,” said Ruth McKernan, chief scientific officer of Pfizer Regenerative Medicine. “Stem cells can be used to create specialized human tissue. Our scientists will determine how new medicines may be able to improve the way stem cells regenerate damaged tissues. We will be optimizing the production of cells that could, one day, be used for therapeutic purposes.”
McKernan added that Pfizer’s stem-cell R&D goal is three-fold: to use human cells as tools in drug discovery efforts, to improve the safety of new treatments and to move towards cell therapy.
“We are pleased to enter into this licensing agreement with Pfizer,” said Carl E. Gulbrandsen, managing director of WARF, which is the non-profit patent and licensing arm for the UW-Madison. “Pfizer’s access to this key intellectual property may have far-reaching benefits for both public health and Wisconsin’s growing biotechnology industry.”
Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still noted that Pfizer has taken an interest in Wisconsin-based research in general in recent years, and the stem-cell agreement is a match for the company’s expertise.
In November, Pfizer launched the Pfizer Regenerative Medicine research unit. This independent research organization will build on Pfizer’s years of experience in this field and recent progress in understanding the biology of hES cells. Stem cells provide an opportunity to discover and develop a new generation of medicines for major medical needs. Pfizer’s initial research in this area focused on the development of drug discovery tools and now expands into developing regenerative medicines that could benefit millions of patients worldwide.