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Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics Collaborate To Develop Cures For Genetic Diseases

Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics Collaborate To Develop Cures For Genetic Diseases

Late last month, Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics announced their intention to form a joint venture combining the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool created by its namesake company with Bayer’s knowledge of disease treatment. The team plans to set their sights on developing potential treatments and cures for genetic diseases, including congenital heart disease, blindness and certain blood disorders.

The joint venture is being described by the companies as, “the first long-term strategic partnership of its kind 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.” In collaboration with CRISPR Therapeutics, Bayer’s new LifeScience Center (BLSC) division will work towards making its mandate a reality by partnering with innovative biotech companies to speed the development of medical breakthroughs.

“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,” said CEO of German multinational Bayer AG, Dr. Marijn Dekkers. “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.”

Bayer has committed to invest at least $300 million in its joint venture with CRISPR Therapeutics, over a five year period. The pharmaceutical company will also pay $35 million for a minority stake in the biotech.

“The joint venture and the Bayer investment are game-changing for our business,” said Dr. Rodger Novak, CEO and co-founder of CRISPR Therapeutics. “We keep a 50 percent 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 intellectual property (IP) development by the joint venture, which we intend to fully leverage in support of CRISPR Therapeutics’ wholly owned core strategic disease areas.”

Novak is set to be the interim chairman of the joint venture board, while the interim CEO will be Dr. Axel Bouchon, who is also head of the BLSC. “We are very impressed by the scientific team of CRISPR Therapeutics as they have built the most promising gene-editing technology on the market. This is perfectly suited to fully leverage Bayer´s expertise in protein engineering and knowledge in the targeted disease areas of this joint venture,” commented Bouchon. “It´s really exciting to combine the forces of our leading technologies, scientific excellence and intellectual property. It promises to have a major impact on patients with serious genetic diseases and also for our businesses.”