Pfizer Forges Partnership with Solid Ventures to Test Muscular Dystrophy Drug
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has chosen to forge a deal with a Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech firm headed by a father on a quest to find a cure for his son.
Ilan Ganot, a former JP Morgan fund manager, raised $17 million and founded Solid Ventures when his son of 4 was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in October 2012. He found partners with expertise in health care and investing – Andrey Zarur, a life sciences venture capitalist, and Gilad Hayeem, former CEO of a European investment fund.
Joel Schneider, scientific analyst at Solid Ventures, told the Boston Business Journal that the deal with Pfizer came about through Carl Morris, senior director of the Rare Disease Research Unit in Cambridge.
“To take a risk on a small company like us speaks volumes about Pfizer’s commitment (to rare diseases),” Schneider said.
A Portfolio with Potential
Solid aims to advance treatments through development and has already delved into three initiatives to treat DMD in different ways. The first initiative is in collaboration with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Testing one of its clinical assets, plans are in development to enter human testing by early next year. In an interview with CNBC, Ganot said it may be possible to skip the initial stages of clinical testing as the safety of the drug has already been established.
A subsidiary created by Solid, dubbed Solid GT, is focused on gene therapy as a disease modifying treatment which, if effective, “changes the disease completely.” Guided by a scientific advisory board chaired by the University of Pennsylvania’s James Wilson, the goal is to take a smaller form of the gene dystrophin and administer it to patients so it can help them make a smaller version of the protein vital for muscle function.
Solid Suit, the third initiative, is focused on preserving muscle function by “repurposing military technologies,” according to CNBC.
Solid’s multiple approaches to one disease are part of its strategy to diversify its efforts to lower investment risk, according to Ganot, and are also structured in a way that provides the most flexibility to the programs.
By choosing to make Solid GT a subsidiary, it allows for “better options in the future on partnering, raising specific money for a particular program, on discontinuing or funding some more,” said Ganot.
What This Means for Pharmaceutical Companies
Solid Ventures offers a lot of potential when it comes to the research and development of new treatments for DMD. Passionate about finding programs that show promise and propelling forward with them, Solid’s mission is to improve the daily life for patients and attacking the roots of DMD.
For pharmaceutical companies looking for new ventures or wanting to partner with a company that propels projects from the laboratory to the pharmacy shelf, Solid Ventures may be your answer.