Pfizer has entered into a couple of new collaborations which will focus on developing antibiotics and RNAi therapeutics.

First up is a deal with Sino-American firm MicuRx Pharmaceuticals and China’s Cumencor Pharmaceuticals to discover novel antibiotics to treat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Pfizer will make an upfront payment and fund discovery and preclinical development, plus royalties.

All the research will be conducted at the ZhangJiang High-Tech Park in Shanghai, and MicuRx chief executive Zhengyu Yuan noted that “the rapid increase of MDR-TB incidence in the emerging markets including China” means “it is critical to pursue development of new therapeutic options”. Steve Yang, head of Pfizer's Asia R&D organisation, said that MicuRx's “existing technology, know-how and expertise provide the basis for this collaboration”, adding that the pact will help build “our global presence in the emerging pharmaceutical markets of Asia and beyond”.

Meantime, the New York-based giant has linked up with MDRNA, which develops RNA interference therapies. The Washington state-headquartered firm will take Pfizer oligonucleotides and formulate them in di-alkylated amino acid packages constructed for RNAi.

MDRNA will also design and synthesise RNAi drugs against targets chosen by Pfizer. Chief executive Michael French said now that Pfizer has made a commitment to the R&D of RNAi therapeutics, “this is a significant opportunity for MDRNA to again demonstrate the broad capabilities of its world-class research team and proprietary drug discovery engine”.

MDRNA buys Cequent
The deal comes a week after MDRNA agreed to acquire privately-held Cequent Pharmaceuticals in a stock deal valued at $46 million. The deal gives the former a product for familial adenomatous polyposis – a genetic disorder that is a precursor to colon cancer – that will soon begin Phase I trials.