Bayer announced its acquisition of US Biotech Company Asklepios Biopharmaceutical Inc. (AskBio), a North Carolina based company, specializing in research development and manufacturing of gene therapies across different therapeutic areas including neuromuscular, Central Nervous System (CNS), cardiovascular (CVS) and metabolic diseases. The deal was valued at USD 4 billion, bolstering Bayer’s pharma division with experimental cell and gene therapies (CGT).
AskBio has a pipeline of CGT for neuromuscular, CNS and CVS disorders, along with a Parkinson’s disease candidate developed with Brain Neurotherapy Bio. Its Pro10 technology platform uses Human Embryonic Kidney based cell line in serum free suspension media to develop AAV vectors at high scales and yield.
Under the terms of agreement, the German chemical giant will pay USD 2 billion upfront and another USD 2 billion in potential milestone payments in cash for developing gene therapies for ailments such as Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure. AskBio would continue to operate as an independent company even after closure of the deal. Its therapy platform includes a cell manufacturing process, an extensive AAV capsid and promoter library. Through the agreement, Bayer will gain all rights to AskBio’s gene therapy platform, its intellectual property portfolio and 50% of the established contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), run by Viralgen, a joint venture set up in 2017 by AskBio and Columbus Venture Partners.
Bayer is expanding to develop cutting cell and gene therapies, it also acquired Blue Rock Therapeutics last year for USD 240 Million. As mentioned in the press release by the CEO of Bayer, Werner Baumann, “This acquisition will allow Bayer to advance establishment of cell and gene therapy platform that can be at the forefront of breakthrough science, contributing to preventing or even curing diseases caused by gene defects and further diving company growth in future.” This addition of AskBio’s emerging cell and gene therapy business strengthens Bayer’s continuing commitment in this segment.