Nature Biotechnology 27, 10 (2009)

Pfizer's $100 million stem cell stake

Nayanah Siva

Pfizer has launched Pfizer Regenerative Medicine, an independent research unit focused exclusively on using stem cells to develop new medicines. The New York–based company will spend more than $100 million over the next 3–5 years on the new initiative, which will employ 70 researchers based at two facilities, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Cambridge, UK. The UK group will focus on neural and sensory disorders, whereas the US team will concentrate on endocrine and cardiac research. In-house researchers will work with both embryonic and adult stem cells, but significant collaborations are also planned. Chief Scientific Officer Ruth McKernan, who will head the UK site, says: “We are keen to take advantage of successful work done by other companies and academic labs. We will be working with several collaborators and these will be announced in the new year.” In the past, big pharma has shied away from investing in stem cell research, but Pfizer's move confirms that attitudes are changing. London's GlaxoSmithKline recently signed a $25 million four-year deal with Harvard University, and the venture funds of Basel-based Novartis and Roche helped bankroll Cellerix, a Madrid company testing stem cells from fat to treat rare skin conditions. Stanford University, California, also recently announced the construction of the world's largest stem cell research building to house over 600 scientists by 2010.