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Pfizer to hold 50% stake in newly formed vaccine discovery, development company

Pfizer Inc. is the lead investor and strategic collaborative partner in IGNITE Immunotherapy Inc., a newly formed company focused on design, discovery and development of oncolytic virus vaccines.

The company will focus on the discovery and development of targeted and proprietary next-generation intravenous oncolytic virus vaccines for the immunotherapy of cancer. It is developing a proprietary vector discovery platform, Oncolytic Vaccine Evolution, to potentially discover novel vectors for use in its lytic cancer vaccine products.

Under an agreement with IGNITE, Pfizer will have a 50% equity investment in IGNITE and will fund research and development for three years. Pfizer also has an option to acquire IGNITE after the initial research program is completed.

In addition, Pfizer has two seats on the board of IGNITE.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

David Kirn is the co-founder and the executive chairman of IGNITE and is also currently co-founder, chairman and CEO of 4D Molecular Therapeutics. Dave Schaffer and Doug Hanahan are co-founders and SAB co-chairs of the company. Schaffer is currently co-founder and acting CSO of 4D Molecular, while Hanahan is serving the director of the Swiss Institute for Cancer Research.

Theresa Janke joined as co-founder and board member, while James Merson and Bob Smith joined the company as board members.

Janke is currently senior vice president of operations and Alliance/Program Management at 4D Molecular; Merson is senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the vaccine immunotherapeutics research unit at Pfizer; and Smith is senior vice president of gene therapy business and early commercial development for rare disease at Pfizer’s innovative health business.