German multinational pharmaceutical company Bayer has signed an agreement to acquire US-based biotechnology company BlueRock Therapeutics.

Bayer and founding investor Versant Ventures BlueRock at the end of 2016 with a $225m Series A Financing as part of the Leaps by Bayer unit. Bayer thus owned a 40.8% stake in the biotech, which develops engineered cell therapies in the fields of neurology, cardiology and immunology using an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform.

As a result of this latest deal, Bayer will now acquire the remaining 59.2% stake in the company by paying around $240m in cash upfront at the closing of the transaction and an additional $360m after achieving pre-defined development milestones.

BlueRock develops engineered cell therapies in the fields of neurology, cardiology and immunology using an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform.

Bayer will now own full rights to BlueRock’s CELL+GENE platform, which encompasses its broad intellectual property portfolio and associated technology platform including proprietary iPSC technology, gene engineering and cell differentiation capabilities.

Bayer Pharmaceuticals Division president Stefan Oelrich said: “This acquisition marks a major milestone on our path towards a leading position in cell therapy.

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“In line with our strategy to ramp up our investments in technologies with breakthrough innovation potential, we have decided to build our cell therapy pipeline based on BlueRock Therapeutics’ industry-leading iPSC platform.”

BlueRock Therapeutics CEO Emile Nuwaysir said: “We have built a premier cell therapy platform at BlueRock Therapeutics, with industry-leading R&D, process development and manufacturing capabilities.

“With the expertise and support of Bayer, we will be even better positioned to pursue the discovery, development and commercialisation of revolutionary new cell therapies for patients suffering from diseases previously thought of as intractable.”

BlueRock’s lead programme focuses on Parkinson’s disease and is predicted to enter the clinic by the end of this year.

The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of this year.