Bayer Completes $4-Bn Acquisition of Asklepios BioPharmaceuticalBy
Bayer has completed its acquisition of Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), a Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based clinical-stage gene-therapy company, in a deal worth up to $4 billion ($2 billion upfront and up to $2 billion in milestone payments). The acquisition was announced in late October (October 2020).
AskBio’s development portfolio includes investigational preclinical and clinical-stage gene-therapy candidates for treating neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases, such as Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure, as well as out-licensed clinical candidates for hemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The company also has an adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene-therapy platform and gene-therapy manufacturing capabilities used for both internal purposes and for providing CDMO services. AskBio’s gene-therapy platform includes a cell-line manufacturing process and an AAV capsid and promoter library.
With the completion of the acquisition, Bayer has launched a Cell and Gene Therapy Platform, focused on the research and development of cell and gene therapies and the related supporting functions, within its Pharmaceutical Division. Wolfram Carius, currently Bayer’s Vice President of Pharmaceuticals Product Supply, was named to head the Cell & Gene Therapy Platform.
The acquisition of AskBio follows Bayer’s acquisition last year (2019) of BlueRock Therapeutics, a developer of cell therapies in neurology, cardiology and immunology, in a deal worth up to $600 million ($240 million upfront and $360 million in milestones). BlueRock develops engineered cell therapies using a proprietary induced pluripotent stem-cell platform. Bayer acquired the remaining stake in BlueRock that it did not already own; it had a 40.8% stake in the company as a result of an earlier 2016 agreement to establish the company with the investment firm, Versant Ventures.
Within cell and gene therapies, Bayer is focused on stem-cell therapies (induced pluripotent cells), gene augmentation, gene editing, and allogeneic cell therapies in various indications. The company’s cell and gene therapy pipeline consists of five advanced assets and more than 15 preclinical candidates. To build its position in cell and gene therapies, Bayer says it also enhancing its internal capabilities while also pursuing external strategic collaborations, technology acquisitions, and licensing.