Pfizer has hit the acquisition trail again but is keeping quiet about how much it is paying to get control of CovX, a privately-owned biotherapeutics company.

No financial details have been disclosed about the purchase of the La Jolla, California-based company which specialises in preclinical oncology and metabolic research. It has also developed a biotherapeutics technology platform that Pfizer says will enhance its biologic portfolio.

That technology links therapeutic peptides to an antibody ‘scaffold’ that allows the peptides to remain in the body long enough to achieve therapeutic benefit, Pfizer said. The technology thereby allows half-life extension and bioavailability to support optimal dosing regimens for peptide therapeutics and as validation of this, CovX has generated three early-stage compounds, one in diabetes and two in cancer.

The New York-based behemoth’s chief executive Jeff Kindler said that the acquisition is “a further step in Pfizer’s strategy to acquire and identify new product candidates”. He added that “we are looking for the best science wherever we can find it, with a special focus in our priority areas, such as biotherapeutics”.

CovX will operate as a division of the firm’s recently-launched Biotherapeutic and Bioinnovation Center in California which is led by Corey Goodman, the co-founder of two high-profile biotech companies Exelixis and Renovis. He noted that “CovX scientists will remain in place, which reflects our decision to partner differently and maximise the productivity of the research initiatives underway outside of our walls”.

Pfizer also announced that its previously-announced $164 million acquisition of Coley Pharmaceutical Group has been cleared by the anti-trust authorities in both the USA and Germany. At the end of November, the firm started an $8-per-share bid to buy all of Coley's outstanding stock, and the tender offer is due to expire on December 28.