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Bayer strengthens cell and gene therapy focus with new platform

Platform builds on previous acquisition deals for AskBio and BlueRock

Bayer has established a new strategic platform focused on cell and gene therapy, following its AskBio acquisition in October.

The new cell and gene therapy platform will house both AskBio and another of Bayer’s recently acquired firms, BlueRock Therapeutics, under one roof.

Bayer will seek to strengthen its own internal cell and gene therapy capabilities, with the newly established platform also enabling it to pursue external opportunities to bolster its presence in this area.

“This is a defining moment for Bayer. Cell and gene therapies are leading innovation in healthcare, and it is our goal to be at the forefront of this revolution in science,” said Stefan Oelrich, a member of the board of management, Bayer AG and president Pharmaceuticals Division.

Bayer paid an initial $2bn to gain full rights to AskBio’s gene therapy platform, which included an intellectual property portfolio and an established contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO).

AskBio’s adeno-associated gene therapy platform has already shown promise in a number of diseases, with the company’s lead research programmes focused on Pompe disease, Parkinson’s and congestive heart failure.

The German pharma company also bought out its private equity partner Versant Venture and founders in its cell therapy joint venture BlueRock Therapeutics for $240m.

BlueRock was established in late 2016 with $225m in start-up funding from Bayer and investment firm Versant, shortly after Bayer backed gene-editing specialist Casebia via its Leaps by Bayer investment arm.

“The goal [of the platform] is to build robust platforms with broad application across different therapeutic areas,” Bayer added in a statement.

The company also said that it has a ‘vibrant’ cell and gene therapy pipeline with five advanced assets, as well as over 15 preclinical candidates.

“The emerging bio revolution represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a new era for Bayer,” said Wolfram Carius, head of Bayer’s new cell and gene therapy platform.

“A dedicated C&GT Platform is vital to accelerate innovation at its source, and to ensure its translation into tangible therapies for patients who have no time to wait,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

3rd December 2020

From: Research

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