Bayer AG has announced that it is to fully acquire BlueRock Therapeutics, a privately held US-headquartered biotechnology company focused on developing engineered cell therapies in the fields of neurology, cardiology and immunology, using a proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform.

The news comes following a 2016 joint venture with Versant Ventures to establish BlueRock Therapeutics, and Bayer will now acquire the remaining stake for approximately USD 240 million in cash to be paid upfront at closing, and an additional USD 360 million payable upon achievement of pre-defined development milestones.

BlueRock Therapeutics’ portfolio of cell therapies is currently focused on neurology, cardiology and immunology with a lead program in Parkinson’s disease expected to enter the clinic by the end of 2019.

The acquisition marks a “major milestone on our path towards a leading position in cell therapy,” said Stefan Oelrich, member of the board of management, Bayer AG and president pharmaceuticals division. “In line with our strategy to ramp up our investments in technologies with breakthrough innovation potential, we have decided to build our cell therapy pipeline based on BlueRock Therapeutics’ industry-leading iPSC platform. Ultimately, we are joining forces to deliver new treatment options for medical needs that are still unmet today.”

After the acquisition, Bayer will own full rights to BlueRock Therapeutics’ CELL+GENE platform, including a broad intellectual property portfolio and associated technology platform including proprietary iPSC technology, gene engineering and cell differentiation capabilities.