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WAVE says it has reached research, licensing deal with Pfizer

WAVE Life Sciences Inc., a Cambridge biotech developing nucleic acid therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases, Thursday said it has struck a research and licensing deal with drug maker Pfizer Inc. that will help WAVE advance up to five drug programs into clinical trials.

New York-based Pfizer, which has a big research center in Cambridge, agreed to make a $40 million upfront payment to WAVE, including an equity investment of $30 million. If all five drug candidates are eventually commercialized, WAVE has the potential to earn up to $871 million in milestone payments, plus royalties, under the agreement.

The deal also gives Pfizer the rights to exclusively license experimental drugs that could arise out of the collaboration.

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Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.