Pfizer has announced a new £3.8 million research deal with UK biotech firm Ziarco on anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic medicines.

The recently founded Canterbury, UK-based start-up has got off to a flying start after securing the funds via the Biotechnology Value Fund, which has investment from Pfizer Venture Investments. The firm was set up by Mike Yeadon, formerly the chief scientist in the allergy and respiratory research unit of Pfizer in Sandwich.

As a result of this funding boost, Ziarco has entered into an agreement with Pfizer for the exclusive worldwide rights to commercialise a portfolio of clinical, pre-clinical and research anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic assets. 

In return, Pfizer will receive equity as well as certain product-based milestone and royalty payments. Ziarco will use the proceeds of the financing to continue development of these assets and advance proprietary research, it said in a statement.

Pfizer’s UK business took a hit recently when it announced the closure of its Sandwich R&D site in Kent. It has since said it will retain several hundred jobs there, where it focused predominately on anti-allergy and respiratory drug development. But for those who lost their jobs or decided to leave, the UK Government, with the help of Pfizer, established new funds to help former employees set up businesses just like Ziarco.

The start-up has licensed Pfizer’s histamine H4 receptor antagonist that could provide a new way to treat asthma, allergic rhinitis, pain and skin inflammation. Ziarco says the drug is the company’s lead candidate and has undergone early-stage studies. It has also gained rights to a histamine H3 receptor antagonist, a topical cPLA2 inhibitor and other assets from Pfizer.

Dr Mike Yeadon, chief executive of Ziarco, said: “Ziarco was founded to address the significant need that still exists for new, more effective ways to treat disorders underpinned by inflammatory and allergic pathobiology. Each programme in development at Ziarco has the potential to be a first-in-class therapeutic and because they target critical points within inflammatory and allergic pathways they offer treatment options for diverse and difficult to manage diseases. 

“Not only are we very fortunate at such an early stage in the company's development to have licensed significant assets from Pfizer and secured funding from Biotechnology Venture Fund and Pfizer Venture Investments to progress development of these innovative therapeutic agents, but we have in place a highly experienced team which has deep knowledge of these programmes and has the passion and expertise to deliver.”