Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics said today they have launched a joint venture to discover, develop, and commercialize new therapies to treat blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart disease. The deal will generate at least $335 million for CRISPR Therapeutics.

The joint venture is designed to combine CRISPR Therapeutics’ CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology with Bayer’s protein engineering and disease expertise, the companies said. Bayer agreed to secure exclusive rights to CRISPR Therapeutics’ technology and intellectual property in the three targeted disease areas.

For other disease areas, products and researcher created through the collaboration will be exclusively made available to CRISPR Therapeutics for human use, and to Bayer for non-human use such as agricultural applications. All technology development and future IP developed by the JV will also be exclusively available to both companies, Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics said.

The as-yet-unnamed joint venture will be based in London, with operations in Cambridge, MA.

Bayer agreed to pay CRISPR Therapeutics a minimum $300 million in R&D investment toward the joint venture over five years. Bayer will also shell out $35 million cash to acquire a minority stake in CRISPR Therapeutics.

The alliance is the first launched by the new Bayer LifeScience Center (BLSC), a unit of the life science giant focused on strategic innovation, and reporting directly to Bayer´s Board of Management. BLSC has been formed to partner with smaller biotechs, with the goal of generating fundamental scientific and medical breakthroughs rapidly.

Axel Bouchon, Ph.D., head of the BLSC, will lead the joint venture on an interim basis as CEO, while Rodger Novak, M.D., CEO and co-founder of CRISPR Therapeutics, will serve as interim chairman of the newly formed joint venture board.

“The JV and the Bayer investment are game-changing for our business,” Dr. Novak said in a statement. “We keep a 50% ownership in the high-risk, high-reward areas of blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart diseases, but also retain full access to target delivery technologies and IP development by the JV, which we intend to fully leverage in support of CRISPR Therapeutics’ wholly owned core strategic disease areas.”


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