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WARF signs license agreement with Pfizer for human embryonic stem cells

MADISON Pfizer Inc., a major biopharmaceutical company, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the private, nonprofit patenting and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, announced May 5 that they have signed a license for human embryonic stem (hES) cell patents for the development of new drug therapies.

The WARF license provides Pfizer the rights to work with hES cells for drug research and discovery. Securing appropriate licenses, in an area as broad and rapidly moving as regenerative medicine, helps ensure rapid and efficient utilization of the many existing discoveries and inventions in this field and allows for the efficient transfer of information for development of future inventions.

"Our license with WARF provides us with information and materials that will allow us to use their cell lines to explore a whole new range of therapies," says Ruth McKernan, chief scientific officer of Pfizer Regenerative Medicine. "Stem cells can be used to create specialized human tissue. Our scientists will determine how new medicines may be able to improve the way stem cells regenerate damaged tissues. We will be optimizing the production of cells that could, one day, be used for therapeutic purposes."

"Pfizer's stem-cell R&D goal is three fold: to use human cells as tools in our drug discovery efforts, to improve the safety of new treatments and, most importantly, to move towards cell therapy," says McKernan. "The benefit to public health could be tremendous as we pursue our discoveries to advance the treatment of debilitating diseases."

"We are pleased to enter into this licensing agreement with Pfizer," said Carl E. Gulbrandsen, managing director of WARF. "Pfizer's access to this key intellectual property may have far-reaching benefits for both public health and Wisconsin's growing biotechnology industry."

As advances in health care help people live longer, the need for new medicines to keep people healthy continues to grow. Pfizer researchers and scientists are working to discover and develop new ways to treat and prevent life-threatening and debilitating illnesses, as well as to improve wellness and quality of life.

In November, Pfizer launched the Pfizer Regenerative Medicine research unit. This independent research organization will build on Pfizer's years of experience in this field and recent progress in understanding the biology of hES cells. Stem cells provide an opportunity to discover and develop a new generation of medicines for major medical needs. Pfizer's initial research in this area focused on the development of drug discovery tools and now expands into developing regenerative medicines that could benefit millions of patients worldwide.


Contact: Janet Kelly
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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