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In order to combat the steady rise in genetic disease prevalence, Bayer partners with CRISPR for easier gene editing technology research and development. By merging CRISPR’s Cas-9 technology with Bayer’s protein engineering techniques and general knowledge in regards to diseases, the discovery of a process of developing viable commercial gene-editing methods will be done at a much faster rate.
This allegiance is the first of its kind in regards to its long term applicability. Bayer will fund the research part with over $300 million in investments while at the same time, gaining a minority stake in CRISPR’s shares equivalent to $35 million. Through the use of these funds, the joint venture will have the task of coming up with a viable delivery system for Cas-9’s gene editing potential towards live human patients.
The aforementioned Cas-9 has been already used to modify genes in a type of filamentous fungus used in the Japanese industry. The fungus Aspergillus oryzae is used in the production of soy sauce and sake. The editing process consists of introducing plasmids carrying the Cas-9 protein which guide the RNA into producing gene mutations inside the fungus’ system. The mutagenesis produced had an efficiency increase ranging from 10% to 20%. Other fungi pertaining to the same filamentous type have benefited from gene editing as well, gaining the same boost in mutation efficiency.
The Bayer company will gain 50% of the profits gathered from the commercialization of an eventual gene-editing therapy towards humans from the targeted areas. These areas consist of genetic illnesses that lead to blindness, blood disease and congenital heart disease. The findings achieved through this joint venture will be split into two parts.
CRISPR will be focused on developing therapies aimed at human patients suffering from the aforementioned diseases. On the other hand, Bayer will have its focus aimed towards the development of therapies for agricultural-based products and other non-human applicants. Even if they have two different areas of the gene-editing spectrum, both parent companies will have undisclosed access to any findings achieved by their joint venture.
The CEO position of the newly formed partnership will be held by the current Head of BLSC, Dr. Axel Bouchon, on an interim basis. The interim board Chairman will be the co-founder and CEO of CRISPR Therapeutics, Dr. Roger Novak. The partnership will remain active for at least the next five years, with funding from Bayer being constantly added until 2020.
Taking into account the recent news stating that Bayer partners up with CRISPR for easier gene editing techniques research and development, this area of medical science will benefit from a massive boost in the coming years. The Cas-9 gene therapy has already been regarded as an important scientific discovery, but its applicability in human patients cannot be addressed given our current technological level. Hopefully, this will change as more and more scientific breakthroughs are made around the globe with each passing week, ranging from new links between diseases and genes to the cure for diabetes patients.