Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

Bayer, Versant Ventures invest $225m in new stem cell therapy company

PBR Staff Writer Published 13 December 2016

Bayer and health care investment firm Versant Ventures are investing $225m in a new stem cell therapy company, BlueRock Therapeutics.

BlueRock Therapeutics will develop induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies for treating various diseases.

The funds are expected to give the new company at least four years of runway and enable it to advance several programs into the clinic. It will initially focus on cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders.

Bayer Lifescience Center head Axel Bouchon said: “iPSC technology has the potential to successfully tackle some of the most challenging diseases on this planet.

“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.”

The biotech company’s platform will be enabled through partnerships with various academic and industry collaborators in Canada, US and Japan.

BlueRock Therapeutics will develop iPSC therapies based on the iPSC intellectual property (IP) invented by Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka. The iPSC IP will be licensed from its managing company iPS Academia Japan.

Versant Ventures managing director Jerel Davis said: “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.”

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

Its manufacturing platform will be built in collaboration with Toronto based Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine.