Bayer, CRISPR Therapeutics Establish JV
News Aug 26, 2016
Casebia Therapeutics, the joint venture founded by Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics, started its operations in Cambridge, MA, U.S. In December, 2015 Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics agreed to create a joint venture (JV) to discover, develop and commercialize new breakthrough therapeutics to cure blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart disease. The two parties formally closed the transaction in the first quarter of 2016.
The JV has recently been incorporated as Casebia Therapeutics, a UK entity with its primary base of research operations in Cambridge, MA, U.S. The name Casebia derives from the CRISPR associated, or Cas, family of nuclease enzymes – key components of the breakthrough gene editing technology on which Casebia will base its therapeutic programs. Casebia has access to gene-editing technology from CRISPR Therapeutics in specific disease areas, as well as access to protein engineering expertise and relevant disease know-how through Bayer.
Casebia has recently entered into a sublease agreement for approximately 33,000 sq ft of laboratory and office space that will host up to 80 employees and form its primary base of operations. The space is located in Cambridge, MA at 610 Main Street North, a brand new, nine-story, MIT-owned building currently under construction in Kendall Square adjacent to the MIT campus. Casebia will be co-located with CRISPR Therapeutics and will enter the new location in early 2017. Meanwhile, research efforts are performed via the various R&D sites of Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics in the US and Germany.
An additional location on Bayer’s campus in San Francisco, Mission Bay will house research operations in hematology indications. “We are excited to engage the broader life science community in Boston now through Casebia. As we establish and grow Casebia’s therapeutic programs, this new location will provide us with state-of-the-art infrastructure, access to the vibrant biotech environment of the Kendall Square area, and facilitate close collaboration with CRISPR Therapeutics,” said Dr. Axel Bouchon, who is serving as interim CEO of Casebia.
Hiring is underway to fully staff Casebia’s research and development organization, which has begun research efforts on its initial therapeutic programs.
As genome editing technologies advance toward clinical therapies, they are raising hopes of a completely new way to treat disease. However, challenges need to be addressed before potential treatments can be widely used in patients. To tackle these challenges, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program, which has awarded multiple grants including more than $3.6 million to assess the safety of genome editing in human cells and tissues.
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