New Bayer firm focuses on stem-cell therapies

Article by Staff Writer

BAYER and Versant Ventures have formed a company to develop stem-cell treatments for cardiovascular diseases and Parkinson’s.

The two companies have committed US$225m to the new biotech company – called BlueRock Therapeutics – enough they say to fund operations for four years, which should allow the biotech firm to advance treatments for cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases to clinical trials. The pair say this is one of the largest-ever Series A financings for a biotech company.

“We are launching this enterprise to develop transformative and curative therapies for patients based on the latest stem cell technology,” said Kemal Malik, board member of Bayer. “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.”

One of the firm’s initial programmes is to use stem cells to regenerate heart muscle in patients who have suffered a heart attack.

“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 Jerel Davis, managing director at Versant Ventures.

The company will also seek to advance stem cell therapies for neurological diseases. Company co-founder Lorenz Studer has pioneered large-scale production of dopamine-producing neurons and his work shows the potential to use these to directly treat Parkinson’s disease.

BlueRock Therapeutics will have research and development operations in Toronto, New York and Boston.

Article by Staff Writer

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