Bayer acquires gene therapy firm AskBio in $4bn deal

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
Bayer
Bayer logo on building in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Jörg Carstensen/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

German pharma company Bayer (BAYN.DE) has acquired US-based Asklepios BioPharmaceutical in a deal worth up to $4bn (£3bn).

Bayer said that acquiring AskBio, which specialises in research, development and gene therapy manufacturing, will allow it to expand treatments for neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases including Parkinson’s and congestive heart failure. It is also carrying out early testing on volunteers of a treatment for the rare genetic disease, Pompe.

Bayer said the acquisition included $2bn upfront purchase payment and up to $2bn in success-based milestone payments.

“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,“ said Bayer’s board chairman and CEO Werner Bauman.

AskBio, based in North Carolina, was founded in 2001. Its five owners said they will remain with the company.

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“We are staying on board because of the unique structure that Bayer has provided ... We’ll have the ability to make our science decisions,” said CEO and co-founder Sheila Mikhail.

Bayer will own the rights to AskBio’s gene therapy platform. It said that adding AskBio to its stable complements its 2019 acquisition of BlueRock Therapeutics, which develops stem cell 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,” Stefan Oelrich, president of Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division said in a statement.

“With Bayer‘s worldwide reach and translational expertise... 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,” said Mikhail.

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