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27 October 2020AmericasSarah Morgan

Bayer to spend up to $4bn on Asklepios BioPharmaceutical

Germany-based Bayer will pay up to $4 billion to acquire gene therapy company Asklepios BioPharmaceutical.

Announced yesterday, October 26, the deal will see Bayer pay $2 billion upfront for Asklepios, a US headquartered biopharmaceutical company, and up to $2 billion in success-based milestone payments.

The acquisition boosts Bayer’s cell and gene therapy expertise with the addition of Asklepios’ adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy platform to its portfolio.

Werner Baumann, chairman of the board of management of Bayer, said: “In line with our purpose ‘science for a better life’, we are committed to bringing significant improvements for patients through innovation.

“With this acquisition, Bayer significantly advances the establishment of a 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 driving company growth in the future.”

Bayer will also gain access to a development portfolio which includes investigational pre-clinical and clinical stage candidates for the treatment of neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Asklepios’ portfolio features therapeutics for Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure, as well as out-licensed clinical indications for haemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Richard Jude Samulski, chief scientific officer and co-founder of Asklepios’, said: “With Bayer‘s worldwide reach and translational expertise, especially in pathway diseases, our combined cultures of scientific advancement and commitment to patients, along with the retention of AskBio’s independent structure, Bayer and AskBio are positioned to provide accelerated development of gene therapies to treat more patients who can benefit from them.”

The move complements Bayer’s 2019 acquisition of BlueRock Therapeutics, a Massachusetts-based cell therapy company.

Bayer isn’t the only large life sciences company looking to step into gene therapy in recent years.

In February 2019, Switzerland-based Roche announced it would buy gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics in a $4.3 billion deal. One month later, Thermo Fisher moved into gene therapy, with the acquisition of Brammer Bio, a viral vector manufacturer for gene and cell therapies, for $1.7 billion.

Later in 2019, Astellas boosted its gene therapy expertise by acquiring US-based Audentes Therapeutics for approximately $3 billion.

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