Pfizer has invested a total of $120m in four clinical-stage biotech companies as part of the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative (PBGI), during the second half of 2020.

Established in June 2020, PBGI is focused on non-controlling equity investments in small- to medium-sized public and large private companies developing clinical-stage assets.

Pfizer said that the initiative complements its focus on internal medicine, inflammation and immunology, oncology, rare disease, vaccines, and hospital services.

Also, the company aims to strengthen its collaboration by participating in the company and scientific advisory boards, along with securing certain rights when mutually suitable.

Pfizer business development senior vice president Debbie Baron said: “Pfizer has a long history of collaborating across the healthcare ecosystem with the shared goal of turning great science into innovative new medicines.

“Our investments in Homology, Vedanta, Trillium, and ESSA reflect our commitment to find new and creative ways to leverage Pfizer’s resources to deliver breakthroughs to patients.”

Through the initiative, the US-based pharmaceutical firm is investing up to $500m in biotechnology companies, providing funding and access to its scientific expertise for the clinical development programmes.

Pfizer’s initial PBGI investments include $10m investment in ESSA Pharma, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based clinical-stage pharmaceutical company.

The company invested $25m in Trillium Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based immuno-oncology firm developing advanced cancer treatment.

Pfizer oncology research and development group chief scientific officer Jeff Settleman has joined to Trillium scientific advisory board, as part of the transaction.

Vedanta Biosciences, which is developing a new category of therapies for immune-mediated diseases using human microbiome-derived bacteria, has received $25m funding from Pfizer.

Pfizer’s inflammation and immunology research unit chief scientific officer Michael Vincent will be appointed to Vedanta’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Also, the company has invested $60m in Homology Medicines, a clinical-stage genetic medicines company focused on rare genetic diseases with significant unmet medical needs.

Its rare disease research unit chief scientific officer Seng Cheng has appointed to overlook Homology’s gene therapy and gene editing programmes for phenylketonuria (PKU).