Deal value: $2 billion (upfront)
Premium to previous closing price: N/A
Date announced: Oct. 26, 2020
Every pharma company wants to secure a place in the burgeoning cell and gene therapy field, including Bayer. Amid tough soul-searching, the German conglomerate made two acquisitions in the past two years for next-generation technologies.
Last year, Bayer put down $2 billion upfront and potentially $2 billion more in milestones to take in adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy specialist Asklepios BioPharmaceutical.
Founded in 2001, AskBio has a relatively long history in gene therapy research compared with other well-known names such as AveXis and Spark Therapeutics, which were protagonists in multibillion buyouts by Novartis and Roche, respectively.
Over the years, AskBio spinoffs Chatham Therapeutics and Bamboo Therapeutics attracted buyouts by Baxter (now part of Takeda) and Pfizer for their respective hemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy gene therapies. The Pfizer Duchenne candidate, dubbed PF-06939926, just began phase 3 testing.
Other AskBio subsidiaries include NanoCor Therapeutics, which last year pushed a gene therapy that aims to activate protein phosphatase inhibitor 1 into a phase 1 for congestive heart failure. Its Pompe Disease candidate is housed within another member called Actus Therapeutics.
All told, AskBio has developed a deep pipeline with preclinical and clinical candidates for neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
In a deal sweetener, AskBio also comes with gene therapy manufacturing capabilities, which are being applied to contractor work as the company doesn’t have a commercial product. Bayer has billed the CDMO setup as laying the foundation for future partnerships.