Bayer teams with CRISPR Therapeutics in joint venture

The new joint venture will focus on breakthrough therapies for blood disorders, blindness and congenital heart disease

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LEVERKUSEN, Germany & BASEL, Switzerland—Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics have announced an agreement to establish a joint venture for the discovery, development and commercialization of new breakthrough therapies for blood disorders, blindness and congenital heart disease. Under this agreement, CRISPR Therapeutics will apply its proprietary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology and intellectual property, with Bayer contributing its expertise in protein engineering.
Per the agreement, Bayer will make a minimum of $300 million in R&D investments to the joint venture over the next five years, in addition to acquiring a minority stake in CRISPR Therapeutics for $35 million in cash.
“We are very impressed by the scientific team of CRISPR Therapeutics as they have built the most promising gene-editing technology on the market. This is perfectly suited to fully leverage Bayer´s expertise in protein engineering and knowledge in the targeted disease areas of this JV. It's really exciting to combine the forces of our leading technologies, scientific excellence and intellectual property. It promises to have a major impact on patients with serious genetic diseases and also for our businesses,” said Dr. Axel Bouchon, head of the Bayer LifeScience Center (BLSC) .
This joint venture represents the first investment by the new BLSC, which functions as a novel strategic innovation unit in Bayer reporting directly to the board. Its goal is to encourage and unlock scientific and medical breakthroughs more rapidly by supporting innovative partnerships. The joint venture, which has yet to be named, will be based in London, with operations in Cambridge, Mass. Bouchon will lead the joint venture on an interim basis as CEO, while Dr. Rodger Novak, CEO and co-founder of CRISPR Therapeutics, will serve as the interim chairman of the joint venture's board.
Bayer can secure exclusive rights through the joint venture to use CRISPR Therapeutics' and the joint venture's proprietary CRISPR-Cas9 technology and intellectual property in the three targeted disease areas, and in turn, CRISPR Therapeutics can gain exclusive access to Bayer's protein engineering for us in its products as well as Bayer's knowledge in the select disease areas. Newly created know-how from the deal around the CRISPR-Cas9 system beyond the three disease areas will be exclusively made available to CRISPR Therapeutics for human-use, and to Bayer for non-human use. Any technology development and future IP developed by the joint venture will also be exclusively available to both companies.

“The new Bayer LifeScience Center and the partnership with CRISPR Therapeutics are representative of Bayer’s more than 150-year tradition of developing scientific innovations that dramatically improve lives,” Dr. Marijn Dekkers, CEO of Bayer AG, said in a press release. “Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics are philosophically and financially aligned in our mission to develop game-changing or possibly curative treatments for serious human genetic diseases.”

“The JV and the Bayer investment are game-changing for our business,” Novak remarked in a press release. “We keep a 50-percent ownership in the high-risk, high-reward areas of blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart diseases, but also retain full access to target delivery technologies and IP development by the JV, which we intend to fully leverage in support of CRISPR Therapeutics’ wholly owned core strategic disease areas.”
SOURCE: Bayer press release

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