Three years after Bayer and gene-editing biotech CRISPR Therapeutics joined forces to launch and run Casebia Therapeutics, the German Pharma is now handing over the full reins of running the biotech to CRISPR.
Casebia was back in 2016 borne out of a joint venture (JV) between Bayer’s research deals arm and CRISPR Therapeutics, with operations out of life sciences hub Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Under the original JV, Casebia got its hands on the gene-editing tech from CRISPR Therapeutics in specific disease areas including hematology and ophthalmology, as well as having access to protein engineering expertise and relevant disease know-how through the Bayer side.
Now, Bayer is taking a step back: In a brief update, the pair said that the biotech “would operate under the direct management of CRISPR Therapeutics,” and not alongside Bayer, and “would focus on the development of its lead programs in hemophilia, ophthalmology and autoimmune diseases.”
Bayer is certainly not walking away, however, and still holds on to opt-in rights for two products at IND submission.
“The standalone Casebia entity combined the capabilities of CRISPR Therapeutics and Bayer to significantly advance the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing platform,” said Samarth Kulkarni, Ph.D., CEO of CRISPR Therapeutics. “As Casebia’s programs have advanced beyond the discovery stage, we are evolving the operating model to leverage the manufacturing and clinical expertise of CRISPR Therapeutics to further accelerate these programs.”
Lat August, CRISPR Therapeutics and partner Vertex became the first companies to sponsor a human trial of the gene-editing technology (research has already been undertaken in China).
The trial is taking place at a single site in Germany and tests a gene therapy in patients with beta thalassemia, in what all CRISPR companies will hope can push the buzzy tech on in a clinical setting. So far all of the hype and hope has come from preclinical work when it comes to potential therapies, which are still some way off.
“We remain excited about the potential of cutting-edge CRISPR/Cas9 based therapies, which have the potential to create a whole new class of medicines,” added Kemal Malik, Bayer board member for Innovation. “CRISPR Therapeutics has built the capabilities and expertise necessary to advance the Casebia programs to the next phase of development, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with them.”
By Ben Adams
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