TCG Lifesciences, the Rs 400-crore clinical research organisation (CRO) venture of the Chatterjee Group, has entered into an exclusive collaboration with the US-based pharma giant, Pfizer, to develop a portfolio of pre-clinical molecules for discovery of new drugs.

As part of the deal, Pfizer will own the compounds and TCG Lifesciences will receive research funding and milestone payments linked to the successful progression of molecules in the development cycle.

This is the second such deal which TCG Lifesciences has announced recently, the first being with Forest Laboratories. But the deal with Pfizer is significant as this is the first time the Indian company will be involved in a drug development project of this scale and magnitude.

Announcing the deal, TCG Lifesciences MD Swapan Bhattacharya said: “The agreement will span more than two years where we may receive milestone payments throughout the cycle. This serves as a testament to our growing capacity and capabilities to provide high-end integrated drug discovery services in the global arena.”

Incidentally, TCG Lifesciences’ partnership with Pfizer goes back to 2005 when the latter undertook clinical trials for several of its new research drugs. While Mr Bhattacharya did not disclose the disease areas of the new molecules it will develop now, he said they would target unmet diseases. “All the molecules have huge market potential for Pfizer,” he said.

TCG Lifesciences currently employs some 1,100 people across it’s three laboratories in Kolkata, Pune and Delhi. Of this, the Kolkata facility is the largest which alone employs some 800 people. The company has plans to double its headcount over the next 2-3 years.

Apart from this, TCG Lifesciences is also planning to acquire CROs in the US and Europe. “We are already evaluating such deals. The idea is to be closer to these developed markets as much of new drug development is undertaken by pharma companies in these regions,” said Mr Bhattacharya.