Bayer to acquire cell and gene therapy specialist AskBio

James Marshall
October 28, 2020

German health care company Bayer said Monday it is buying Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, a US-based firm specializing in gene therapy, in a deal worth up to United States dollars 4 billion.

On top of the upfront payment, Bayer will also pay up to an additional $2bn dependent on success milestones.

Approximately 75% of the milestone payments will be paid in a course of five years and the remaining amount subsequently.

The agreement is expected to ... It has generated hundreds of proprietary third generation AAV capsids and promoters, several of which have entered clinical testing. AskBio's lead research programs, which are focused on Pompe disease, Parkinson's disease and congestive heart failure are now in early phases of clinical development.

The news comes a year after Bayer bought allogeneic cell therapy developer BlueRock Therapeutics for $240 million.

Bayer, the German pharmaceutical, health care and nutrition giant, says the addition of the AskBio business strengthens its commitment to cell and gene therapy (CGT) field. This will "lay the foundation for future partnerships in the area of AAV therapies", according to Bayer. After closing, the company said AskBio would continue to operate independently in the CGT unit to preserve its entrepreneurial culture and nurture innovation.

That platform is based on the work of R. Jude Samulski, PhD, who founded AskBio in 2001.

Werner Baumann, chairman of the Board of Management at Bayer, said the acquisition of AskBio "significantly advances the establishment of a cell and gene therapy platform" that can be at the forefront of breakthrough science and contribute to the development of therapies that can prevent or cure diseases caused by genetic defects.

The North Carolina-based takeover target, also known as AskBio, is trying to use the harmless adeno-associated virus as a delivery device to bring genetic fix kits against a range of diseases into the body.Drugs and farming pesticides maker Bayer needs to upgrade its drug development pipeline amid a weaker outlook for agricultural sales and as it seeks to finalise an $11 billion settlement over claims its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer.

The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2020. The company holds over 500 patents in areas such as AAV production, chimeric vectors and self-complementary DNA.

Samulski also created two AskBio subsidiaries, Bamboo Therapeutics and Chatham Therapeutics, which focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy and haemophilia respectively. In fiscal 2019, the Group employed around 104,000 people and had sales of 43.5 billion euros.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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