Bayer has entered an agreement with CRISPR Therapeutics to establish a joint venture (JV) to develop new breakthrough therapeutics for curing blood disorders, blindness and congenital heart disease.

To be based in London, UK, with operations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US¸ the new JV will combine CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology with Bayer’s protein engineering and disease expertise.

Under the deal, Bayer will invest a minimum of $300m in the JV over the next five years for research and development works.

In addition, the company will acquire a minority stake in CRISPR Therapeutics for $35m.

The company noted that this is the first long-term strategic partnership to make a substantial investment in the development of target delivery systems in an effort to bring systemic in vivo CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology applications to patients.

"Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics are aligned in our mission to develop game-changing or possibly curative treatments for serious human genetic diseases."

The new JV is the first investment by the newly established Bayer LifeScience Center (BLSC), which operates as a new strategic unit in Bayer directly reporting to its board of management.

Bayer CEO Dr Marijn Dekkers said: "The new Bayer LifeScience Center and the partnership with CRISPR Therapeutics are representative of Bayer’s more than 150-year tradition of developing scientific innovations that dramatically improve lives.

"Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics are philosophically and financially aligned in our mission to develop game-changing or possibly curative treatments for serious human genetic diseases."

BLSC head Dr Axel Bouchon will lead the new JV on an interim basis as CEO, while CRISPR Therapeutics CEO and co-founder Dr Rodger Novak will serve as the interim chairman of the newly formed JV Board.

Novak said: "The JV and the Bayer investment are game-changing for our business.

"We keep a 50% ownership in the high-risk, high-reward areas of blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart diseases, but also retain full access to target delivery technologies and IP development by the JV, which we intend to fully leverage in support of CRISPR Therapeutics’ wholly owned core strategic disease areas."

Bayer has the option to secure exclusive rights to the CRISPR-Cas9 technology and intellectual property in the three disease areas, while CRISPR may secure exclusive access to Bayer’s expertise and knowledge in the same areas.

Subject to customary conditions, including merger control clearance in the US, the deak is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.