Pfizer Inc., announced the creation of the Innovative Target Exploration Network (ITEN), a new, early-stage partnering model that enables collaborative relationships with select academic institutions and principal investigators around the world, to identify research projects that have the potential to deliver novel therapeutic targets and mechanisms of action to underpin future drug discovery in core areas of interest to Pfizer.
Complementing Pfizer’s long-standing commitment to academic collaboration, the ITEN model will allow researchers from Pfizer and partner institutions to share ideas for pairing academia’s cutting-edge research with industry’s translational capabilities and wide network of resources and relationships.
The University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford are the first to participate in the ITEN model in the United Kingdom, and the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) is the first to participate in the United States. Pfizer is seeking to selectively include other institutions to be part of the ITEN model.
‘Creative and Agile Scientific Interaction’
Each ITEN is managed by an External Scientific Innovation Lead (ESIL) from Pfizer, who serves as the liaison between senior scientists from Pfizer and academic principal investigators from the applicable institution, and who facilitates discussions on research topics of mutual interest.
“The ITEN partnering model creates an environment of creative and agile scientific interaction,” said Uwe Schoenbeck, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, External Science & Innovation, Pfizer. “By establishing relationships with researchers early in the research and development process, we believe the ITEN model will better position us to identify potentially promising research projects – focused on seeking unique technology platforms and outstanding biology expertise – continually building on our mission to bring innovative new therapies to patients in need.”
Cambridge, Oxford and UTSW Research Projects Identified
Established in 2017, the first ITEN partnerships with Cambridge, Oxford and UTSW have each already generated research projects that have been identified.
The Cambridge and Oxford University research projects each will focus on deubiquitinylation enzymes (DUBs), a gene family previously considered challenging to target, that might aid in potentially treating cancer as well as autoimmune, cardio-metabolic diseases and rare diseases.
The UTSW research project is a collaboration with Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Dr. Bruce Beutler, focused on a forward genetics approach to elucidating genetic targets for specific indications, particularly in oncology and metabolic disease.
Commitment to Academic Collaborations
The ITEN model further demonstrates Pfizer’s ongoing commitment to partnering with academia to foster the creation of the next generation of breakthrough medicines. By starting the discovery process before a preclinical candidate is identified, the ITEN model will complement the successful work of Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI), a pioneering collaboration model that was launched by Pfizer in 2010 to forge academic-foundation-industry collaborations and to bridge the gap between early scientific discovery and its translation into clinical candidates. With 25 academic institutions and six foundations in its network, as well as the National Institutes of Health, CTI has successfully brought multiple projects to the clinic across a diversity of disease areas.
“By focusing on research collaborations around early biology and therapeutic concepts, our ITEN collaborations will seek out innovative science and technology,” said Schoenbeck. “As research projects progress, we will work with the given institution to move them into the clinical phase using therapeutically aligned research units or through CTI.”
Filed Under: Drug Discovery