Bayer to acquire gene therapy specialist AskBio for $4bn

26 October 2020 (Last Updated October 27th, 2020 08:22)

Bayer to acquire gene therapy specialist AskBio for $4bn
The deal will strengthen Bayer’s emerging cell and gene therapy platform. Credit: PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

Bayer has announced the acquisition of US-headquartered cell and gene therapy specialist Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio) in a deal worth $4bn.

Under the deal, AskBio will get an upfront payment of $2bn from Bayer and is eligible for success-based milestone payments of up to $2bn.

Approximately 75% of the milestone payments will be paid in a course of five years and the remaining amount subsequently.

Even after the acquisition, AskBio will operate as an independent company.

AskBio’s development portfolio comprises investigational pre-clinical and clinical-stage candidates for treating neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

The deal will strengthen Bayer’s emerging cell and gene therapy (CGT) platform with the potential to bring treatments to diseases with high unmet need.

Bayer Board of Management (CEO) chairman Werner Baumann said: “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.”

On acquisition completion, Bayer will have full rights to AskBio’s gene therapy platform which consists of a broad intellectual property portfolio and an established contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO).

Bayer will add an adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy platform to its portfolio, which already showed applicability in various treatment areas.

AskBio’s gene therapy platform includes a cell line manufacturing process and an extensive AAV capsid and promoter library.

Asklepios BioPharmaceutical chief scientific officer and co-founder Dr Richard Samulski said: “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 disease that is not being adequately treated today.”

On meeting customary closing conditions including obtaining required regulatory approvals, the closing of the transaction is expected by the fourth quarter of this year.