Oct 26, 2020
Bayer Acquires Asklepios BioPharmaceutical to Broaden Innovation Base in Cell and Gene Therapy
- Acquisition fuels Bayer’s cell and gene therapy platform with potential to bring urgently needed treatments to patients across multiple disease areas with high unmet need -
- AskBio's industry leading AAV-based gene therapy platform already yielding commercial and clinical-stage assets with the potential to help larger patient populations -
- Portfolio includes pre-clinical and clinical-stage development candidates for the treatment of neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure, as well as out-licensed clinical candidates for hemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy -
- Acquisition secures additional revenue-generating CDMO based on highly efficient Pro10™ cell line -
- AskBio to operate autonomously and on an arm’s-length basis -
- Purchase price of USD 2 billion upfront and up to USD 2 billion in success-based milestone payments -
Berlin, Germany and Research Triangle Park, N.C. – October 26, 2020 – Bayer AG and Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio) today announced an agreement under which Bayer will acquire AskBio, a U.S.-headquartered biopharmaceutical company specializing in the research, development and manufacturing of gene therapies across different therapeutic areas. AskBio’s development portfolio includes investigational pre-clinical and clinical-stage candidates for the treatment of neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
“In line with our purpose ‘science for a better life,’ we are committed to bringing significant improvements for patients through innovation,” said Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management (CEO) of Bayer AG. “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.”
“As part of our strategy, we are building new therapeutic platforms including cell and gene therapies,” said Stefan Oelrich, Member of the Board of Management, Bayer AG and President of Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division. “As an emerging leader in the rapidly advancing field of gene therapies, AskBio’s expertise and portfolio support us in establishing highly innovative treatment options for patients and further strengthen 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 pursuing this important work with the AskBio team.”
“Our innovation in capsid re-engineering and promoter design, coupled with our scaled manufacturing processes, gives us the tools to provide gene therapy solutions to more people suffering from a wider spectrum of diseases that are not being adequately treated today,“ said R. Jude Samulski, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of AskBio. “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, position us to provide accelerated development of gene therapies to treat more patients who can benefit from them,” said Sheila Mikhail, CEO and Co-Founder of AskBio.
Through the acquisition, Bayer will add an industry-leading adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy platform to its portfolio, which has already demonstrated applicability across different therapeutic areas. Besides multiple clinical-stage assets for indications with high unmet need, the acquisition includes a state-of-the-art gene therapy technology platform and gene therapy manufacturing capabilities.
Gene therapy offers new treatment options for many currently untreatable diseases, particularly genetic diseases caused by a single genetic defect.
AskBio’s gene therapy platform includes Pro10™, an industry-leading cell line manufacturing process, and an extensive AAV capsid and promoter library. The company has generated hundreds of proprietary third-generation AAV capsids and promoters that offer differentiation through potentially improved efficacy, immune response and tissue and organ specificity. The platform represents one of the most advanced gene therapy platforms with the promise to also tackle polygenetic indications thereby also helping a larger number of patients. AskBio’s lead research programs, which are focused on Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure, are currently in early phases of clinical development.
To preserve its entrepreneurial culture as an essential pillar for nurturing successful innovation, AskBio will continue to operate as an independent company on an arm’s-length basis. Bayer's newly established CGT unit will bundle Bayer's activities in this area moving forward to establish an innovation ecosystem for participating partners within the Bayer organization.
AskBio’s existing minority shareholders, TPG Capital and Vida Ventures, supported the transaction. TPG Capital and Vida Ventures invested in AskBio in 2019 and have worked with the company to advance and expand clinical trials, enhance its manufacturing capabilities and drive long-term growth. The firms have collaborated in the past, and each has notable experience in the gene and cell therapy spaces.
Closing of the transaction is contingent upon customary closing conditions, including receipt of the required regulatory approvals, and is expected to take place during the fourth quarter of 2020.
Credit Suisse is serving as financial advisor to Bayer, while Baker McKenzie is serving as legal counsel. JP Morgan is serving as financial advisor to AskBio, while Ropes & Gray is serving as legal counsel.