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BVF's private return

Biotech Value Fund backs newco Ziarco to develop Pfizer assets

Biotechnology Value Fund invested in a private company for the first time in more than five years, putting money into a spinout of potentially first-in-class assets from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE).

Newco Ziarco Pharma Ltd. announced on Nov. 5 that it raised $6 million in the first tranche of a planned $27 million series A round led by BVF. Pfizer Venture Investments participated in the round.

The company also in-licensed exclusive, worldwide rights to a portfolio of four assets from Pfizer for inflammatory and allergic diseases. The pharma will receive an equity stake and is eligible for milestones, plus royalties.

"The vast majority of our capital is dedicated toward publicly traded stocks," BVF's Joseph Sum told BioCentury. "But we made an exception in this case" based on the chance to pair a research team with assets that are more advanced than those typically seen in a biotech startup.

Pfizer has spent "significant amounts of money" on the programs, which have generated "no negative data," said Sum. "But they were going to be worthless, left to die on the shelf, if no one took them."

Moreover, he said, "it was just a very unique opportunity to not only get the assets, but get the team that knows the assets better than anyone else."

Ziarco President and CEO Mike Yeadon was VP

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