The acquisition will add an adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy platform to Bayer’s portfolio; as well as an established CDMO business. This will 'lay the foundation for future partnerships in the area of AAV therapies’, according to Bayer.
Founded in 2001 and based in North Carolina, AskBio's development portfolio includes investigational pre-clinical and clinical stage candidates for the treatment of neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. This includes therapeutics for Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure, as well as out-licensed clinical candidates for haemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Next step in CGT expansion following BlueRock acquisition
Bayer will take on the full rights to AskBio’s gene therapy platform, including a broad intellectual property portfolio and an established, revenue generating contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). AskBio’s gene therapy platform includes a proprietary cell line manufacturing process, Pro10, and an adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsid and promoter library. It has generated hundreds of proprietary third generation AAV capsids and promoters, several of which have entered clinical testing.
Bayer, the German pharmaceutical, health care and nutrition giant, says the addition of the AskBio business strengthens its commitment to cell and gene therapy (CGT) field. It follows on from Bayer’s 2019 full acquisition of BlueRock Therapeutic (previously a JV between Bayer and Versant Ventures): enhancing the company’s cell therapy pipeline based on BlueRocks’ induced pluripotent stem cell platform.
Bayer will pay an upfront consideration of $2bn for Ask Bio; followed by potential success-based milestone payments of up to $2bn. Around 75% of the potential milestone payments are expected over the next five years. The transaction, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, is due to take place during the fourth quarter of 2020.
Bayer says AskBio will continue to operate as an independent company on an ‘arms length’ basis in order to preserve its ‘entrepreneurial culture which is an essential pillar for nurturing successful innovation’.