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Pfizer taps UCSF for small-molecule drug discovery

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In an effort to widen its search for new small-molecule drug candidates, Pfizer ($PFE) is extending its biologics partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), building on the company's already robust Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) program.

The deal follows a trend in the industry, as more biopharma companies forge partnerships with academic institutions to fill holes left by big cuts to their R&D budgets.

The collaboration expands on an agreement struck by Pfizer's CTI and UCSF in October 2010 for large-molecule, or biologics, discovery. Under the terms of the new agreement, UCSF will receive funding from Pfizer to support preclinical and clinical development of small-molecule research programs. If drug candidates meet certain objectives, Pfizer would help move the drugs into clinical trials. UCSF would receive milestone payments and receive royalties if a product created through the collaboration is commercialized.

The small-molecule partnership began with a call for proposals on UCSF's campus on March 22.

UCSF and Pfizer began accepting proposals for small-molecule research on March 22, and Pfizer said it will make funding decisions by the third quarter this year, when it will incorporate the selected projects into CTI's pipeline. The program anticipates launching more small-molecule projects this year.

To date, Pfizer's CTI has established partnerships with 20 academic medical centers across the U.S. in a variety of therapeutic areas, including oncology and inflammation, as well as infectious, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

- here's the press release

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