Bayer will acquire Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio)

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Bayer AG has announced its intention to acquire a biopharmaceutical company based in the USA. Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio) will become part of Bayer after the relevant permits have been granted. The acquired company specializes in gene therapies in various therapeutic areas. After the acquisition, AskBio will operate autonomously, on market terms.

Bayer invests – this time it focuses on gene therapies

AskBio conducts preclinical and clinical studies of active substitutes for the treatment of many diseases. Bayer takes over full rights to the AskBio gene therapy platform – this includes a broad portfolio of intellectual property, the company’s announcement reads. Bayer will also become the owner of a service unit that is engaged in research and development of adenovirus (AAV) therapy. Under the terms of the agreement, the purchase price of AskBio is $2bn (payable in advance) and up to $2bn payable in tranches related to specific goals. It is expected that approximately 75% of the amount in tranches will be paid out within the next five years and the remaining amount will be paid out a little later. Let’s recall that this is another Bayer acquisition in recent months, the previous one we wrote about here.

– As a result of this acquisition, Bayer will be taking care of gene and cell therapy, which will pave the way for scientific breakthroughs. I have no doubt that we will contribute to the prevention of genetic diseases. We will treat them and support this aspect of our corporate development – stresses Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2020. However, the usual conditions must be met beforehand, including obtaining appropriate administrative approvals.

AskBio gene therapy platform

With AskBio, Bayer is taking over the industry’s leading gene therapy platform, according to a press release. This platform has already been used in various therapeutic areas. The transaction transfers numerous resources to Bayer: many drugs in the clinical research phase that respond to unmet therapeutic needs as well as a modern gene therapy platform. Gene therapy allows for the treatment of many previously incurable diseases. This is particularly true for diseases caused by a single genetic defect.

– We are building new therapeutic platforms, new cellular and gene therapies – this is our strategy,” adds Stefan Oelrich, Member of the Management Board of Bayer AG and President of Pharmaceuticals Department. – The resources of AskBio will allow us to develop highly innovative methods of patient treatment. We want to help those patients who are still waiting for effective treatment. We are very pleased to start working with the AskBio team.

“The AskBio gene therapy platform is based on an innovative manufacturing process and an extensive library of AAV caps and promoters. Hundreds of third generation capsides and AAV promoters have been patented, which have potentially higher efficacy and better immune response, and act specifically against tissues and organs. This is one of the most advanced gene therapy platforms – potentially for use also in polygenetic indications. Many patients will benefit from it. The most important research programs of AskBio are now in their early stages – Pompe disease, Parkinson disease and congestive heart failure.”

Source: Bayer press release.

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