Bayer to acquire US gene therapy company Asklepios BioPharmaceutical in $4bn deal

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German pharma giant Bayer has agreed to acquire US clinical-stage gene therapy company Asklepios BioPharmaceutical in a deal worth up to $4 billion.

The portfolio of Asklepios BioPharmaceutical features investigational pre-clinical and clinical stage candidates, which are being developed for the treatment of neuromuscular, cardiovascular, central nervous system, and metabolic diseases.

Asklepios BioPharmaceutical was established in 2001 and is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Through the deal, Bayer will get full rights to the US firm’s gene therapy platform, which includes an intellectual property portfolio and a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), which is expected to provide a base for future partnerships in the area of adeno-associated virus (AAV) therapies.

Bayer said that the deal complements its last year’s acquisition of US cell therapy company BlueRock Therapeutics. Furthermore, it strengthens the German group’s goal to develop platforms with the potential of making an impact across multiple therapeutic areas.

Bayer acquisition of Asklepios

Bayer acquisition of Asklepios. Photo courtesy of Bayer AG.

Stefan Oelrich – President of Bayer Pharmaceuticals Division, commenting on Bayer acquisition of Asklepios, said: “As part of our strategy, we are building new therapeutic platforms including cell and gene therapies.

“As an emerging leader in the rapidly advancing field of gene therapies, the expertise and portfolio of AskBio supports us in establishing highly innovative treatment options for patients and further strengthens our portfolio.

“We want to help patients whose medical needs are not yet met by today’s treatment options and we are looking forward to work together with the team at AskBio.”

As per the terms of the deal, Bayer will pay Asklepios BioPharmaceutical an upfront amount of $2 billion followed by up to $2 billion in the form of potential success-based milestone payments.

Bayer said that nearly 75% of the potential success-based milestone payments are likely to be made during the course of the coming five years and the remaining amount later on.

Asklepios BioPharmaceutical will continue to operate as a standalone company on an arm’s-length basis after the acquisition, said Bayer.

Commenting on Bayer acquisition of Asklepios, Sheila Mikhail – CEO and Co-Founder of AskBio BioPharmaceutical, 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.”

Bayer acquisition of Asklepios is expected to be wrapped up in Q4 2020 once it satisfies customary closing conditions such as obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals.

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