Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced that it is shelving its research efforts aimed at finding new treatments for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Consequently Pfizer expects that around 300 positions will be eliminated specifically in Groton, Connecticut and Cambridge, Massachusetts where the early development and neuroscience programs were being carried out. The pharmaceutical firm will redistribute the funds that had been allocated to these programs.
Pfizer has however pointed out that there will be no funding changes with regards to tanezumab, a drug which is used to treat joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. Funding for Pfizer’s rare disease program will also be unaffected as well as Lyrica, a treatment for fibromyalgia.
“This was an exercise to re-allocate spend across our portfolio, to focus on those areas where our pipeline, and our scientific expertise, is strongest,” Pfizer said in a statement.
Pfizer has made heavy investments in the research of treatments aimed at Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Together with Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical firm is a part of Dementia Discovery Fund – a venture fund unveiled three years ago by government and industry group and which is seeking to come up with drugs for treating Alzheimer’s.
Despite the heavy investments Pfizer has only met with failure and disappointment to an extent. Six years ago work on bapineuzumab, a treatment that was being jointly developed by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson was halted after the drug failed to have a positive impact on patients who were suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
The ending of Pfizer’s research efforts in drugs aimed at patients suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s comes less than a week since the pharmaceutical giant announced that it had formed a partnership with Sangamo Therapeutics. Under the partnership Pfizer will collaborate with Sangamo to come up with a gene therapy for treating ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Additionally the gene therapy will be applied in the treatment of patients suffering from a brain disorder resulting from gene mutations and which affect around 30% of the ALS cases that are hereditary.
After a spate of high profile failures back in the 1990s, gene therapy has recently been gaining momentum. The Food and Drug Administration has consequently updated guidance with a view to speeding up the development of gene therapies. Just last month the FDA gave approval for a treatment developed by Spark Therapeutics and which is aimed at treating rare blindness caused by hereditary factors.