Bayer (ETR:BAYN) and Versant Ventures said today that the 2 groups closed a $225 million Series A financing round to launch BlueRock Therapeutics, a regenerative medicine company focused on developing induced pluripotent stem cell therapies. The funds are estimated to support the company for 4 years as it advances cell therapy clinical programs for cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
“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,” Kemal Malik, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG, said in prepared remarks. “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.”
In collaboration with Toronto-based McEwen Center for Regenerative Medicine and University Health Network, BlueRock will study how to regenerate heart muscle in patients who have had a heart attack or suffer from chronic heart failure. The program’s goal will be to restore electrical and contractile function of injured hearts via remuscularization with pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. BlueRock is also partnering with Memorial Sloan Kettering and leading neurosurgeons to advance stem cell therapy for neurological diseases with high unmet need.
BlueRock has licensed the induced pluripotent stem cell intellectual property from iPS Academia Japan Inc., and has partnered with CCRM for the manufacture of various stem cell types.
“We have closely tracked the field of regenerative medicine for the past 5 years and believe the time is right to invest in stem cell therapies given recent breakthroughs in cell differentiation, manufacturing and engineering,” Versant managing director Jerel Davis said. “We are delighted to team up once again with Bayer and to be partnering with such a distinguished group of founders and institutes.”
“iPSC technology has the potential to successfully tackle some of the most challenging diseases on this planet,” head of the Bayer Lifescience Center Axel Bouchon added. “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.”