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TOPIC: Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup

Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup 12 Dec 2016 19:56 #8201

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LEVERKUSEN, Germany and BOSTON and NEW YORK and TORONTO and KYOTO, Japan, Dec. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Bayer AG and Versant Ventures today announced the launch of BlueRock Therapeutics, a next-generation regenerative medicine company that plans to develop best-in-class induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies to cure a range of diseases using an industry-leading platform. BlueRock Therapeutics will be led by a world-class team and has assembled its platform through a series of strategic partnerships with academia and industry.

To enable BlueRock Therapeutics' platform and pipeline, Bayer and Versant are committing USD 225 million, representing one of the largest-ever series A financings for a biotech company. The funds are projected to give BlueRock Therapeutics at least four years of runway and will allow the new company to advance a number of programs into the clinic, with an initial focus on cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders.


BlueRock Therapeutics, a next-generation regenerative medicine company, plans to develop best-in-class induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies to cure a range of diseases using an industry-leading platform.
BlueRock Therapeutics, a next-generation regenerative medicine company, plans to develop best-in-class induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies to cure a range of diseases using an industry-leading platform.
"Accessing cell based therapies is part of Bayer's strategy. We are launching this enterprise to develop transformative and curative therapies for patients based on the latest stem cell technology," said Kemal Malik, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and responsible for Innovation. "We have partnered with Versant Ventures to build a leading player in this field by securing exclusive access to these breakthrough technologies for BlueRock Therapeutics."

BlueRock Therapeutics' platform is enabled by strategic partnerships with a number of leading academic and industry collaborators in the U.S., Canada and Japan.

One of BlueRock Therapeutics' initial programs is to regenerate heart muscle in patients who have had a heart attack (myocard infarction, MI) or are suffering from chronic heart failure, leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. An MI may cause severe secondary diseases such as heart failure or irregular heartbeat. The program is being advanced in collaboration with the Toronto-based McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and University Health Network (UHN) including Dr. Gordon Keller, who is a world leader in stem cell biology and a scientific co-founder of BlueRock Therapeutics, and Dr. Michael A. Laflamme, who is a cardiac cell therapy pioneer and founding investigator of BlueRock Therapeutics. The goal of the program is to restore the electrical and contractile function of injured hearts through remuscularization with pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes.

Integral to BlueRock Therapeutics' formation is a wide-ranging strategic partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dr. Lorenz Studer, a scientific co-founder of BlueRock Therapeutics and 2015 MacArthur Genius Award winner, and Viviane Tabar, neuro surgeon and founding investigator of BlueRock Therapeutics, to advance stem cell therapy programs that address various neurological diseases with high unmet need. Dr. Studer, a world leader in the field of developing neurons from stem cells has pioneered large scale production of dopamine neurons and his research has led to important breakthroughs that show the potential to directly treat PD through replacement therapy with functional, stem cell-derived, dopamine-producing neurons.

The manufacturing platform at BlueRock Therapeutics will be enabled by a partnership with the Toronto-based CCRM, a leader in developing and commercializing regenerative medicine technologies, and cell and gene therapies. CCRM has developed technologies and expertise to support robust and scalable GMP production of various stem cell types for cellular therapeutics.

Importantly, the basis for the overall approach is iPSC intellectual property (IP) invented by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and licensed from iPS Academia Japan Inc., which manages iPSC IP. This foundational IP will allow the company to create iPSCs, which will be an important cell source.

"We have closely tracked the field of regenerative medicine for the past five years and believe the time is right to invest in stem cell therapies given recent breakthroughs in cell differentiation, manufacturing and engineering," said Dr. Jerel Davis, managing director at Versant Ventures. "We are delighted to team up once again with Bayer and to be partnering with such a distinguished group of founders and institutes."

BlueRock Therapeutics will have research and development operations in Toronto, New York and Boston that will allow the company to benefit from its international and cross-border partnerships. The BlueRock Therapeutics Board of Directors will be comprised initially by Dr. Brad Bolzon and Dr. Jerel Davis representing Versant Ventures and Dr. Juergen Eckhardt and Dr. Axel Bouchon representing Bayer.

"iPSC technology has the potential to successfully tackle some of the most challenging diseases on this planet," said Dr. Axel Bouchon, head of the Bayer Lifescience Center (BLSC), "We are fully aware that this will take time and there are many obstacles to overcome. But by combining the best minds around the globe and providing bold resources we believe we can achieve this ultimate goal of curing such diseases."

BlueRock Therapeutics is the second large investment by the BLSC, which operates as a strategic innovation unit in Bayer directly reporting to Bayer's Board of Management. The BLSC has the mission to uncover, encourage and unlock fundamental scientific breakthroughs in medicine and agriculture more rapidly by enabling innovative partnerships and new company creation with best-in-class biotechnology companies or academia. In December 2015, the BLSC formed a joint venture – Casebia – with CRISPR Therapeutics AG, a gene editing company co-founded by Versant.

Bayer: Science For A Better Life

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2015, the Group employed around 117,000 people and had sales of EUR 46.3 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.6 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.3 billion. These figures include those for the high-tech polymers business, which was floated on the stock market as an independent company named Covestro on October 6, 2015. For more information, go to www.bayer.com .

About Versant Ventures

Versant Ventures is a leading healthcare investment firm committed to helping exceptional entrepreneurs build the next generation of great healthcare companies. The firm invests across the healthcare sector and at all stages of company development, with an emphasis on the discovery and development of novel therapeutics. With $1.9 billion under management and offices in North America and Europe, Versant has built a team with deep investment, operating, and scientific expertise that enables a hands-on approach to company building. Since the firm's founding in 1999, more than 65 Versant companies have achieved successful acquisitions or IPOs. For more information, please visit www.versantventures.com .

For more information, go to www.bayer.com .

Forward-Looking Statements

This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer's public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com . The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

SOURCE Bayer
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Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup 12 Dec 2016 20:13 #8202

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Meanwhile, we are still waiting to treat our first paying scleroderma patient through the IDIS program. :evil: :evil:
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Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup 13 Dec 2016 06:01 #8203

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Good news for the stem-cell industry including CYTX and ATHX! :joy: :yep:

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Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup 13 Dec 2016 09:00 #8204

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Amazing Hedge Cytori still unable to get out of it's own way, do a deal,secure a partnership or anything but
cut expenses. Disgusting

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Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup 13 Dec 2016 10:45 #8206

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How do you view this as a positive development Rod? I don't see someone with the financial clout of a Bayer going into competition with Cytori as a positive development.

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Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup 13 Dec 2016 11:14 #8207

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B767, the reason that it is a big positive is because it represents an entree by Big Pharma into the stem-cell sector which BP has been hoping for years would just "go away' because of the potential for the sector to encroach on their traditional drug business - this deal is an acknowledgement that stem-cells are here to stay and I think that we will see many more deals over the coming years!
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Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup 13 Dec 2016 11:52 #8210

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I also think that this is amazing news for the entire industry. I had the exact same line of thought that Rodney did when I read the news last night, and before I saw his comment above.

Large companies like Bayer study these types of investments carefully, and can often take years to make them. Making a $225 million dollar investment in our industry is an early, but significant sign of capitulation from the industry leaders. We all know that they aren't doing this out of the goodness of their heart, and they certainly aren't in the business of selling hopes and fantasies like Calhoun was. Bayer is a serious company, making a serious investment, in an increasingly serious sector of healthcare. This is a huge validation of the efforts of all the companies in the regenerative medicine sector.

I think the issue we run into on this board is that most of us have suffered years of substantial capital losses by investing in Cytori, and we bear a great deal of resentment towards those responsible. We should make every effort to not let that resentment cloud our perception of this technology though. Putting investment decisions aside, and ignoring the recent grudge match between allo vs auto, can anyone deny that this industry may be on the brink of some amazing things? JMHO
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Big Pharma in $225MM Deal for iPSC Startup 13 Dec 2016 12:58 #8211

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think about differntiation of business
hype?? ipsc or more potential as fat msc?
What are the signs of industy leaders
make money with products whith are not to copy (ssorry fore my denglisch)

holdi

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holdi
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