Drug Development

Welcome Casebia, the $335M gene editing JV hatched by Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics

The new gene editing joint venture being formed by Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics is taking shape. Now dubbed Casebia Therapeutics, the fledgling operations has begun hiring dozens of new staffers, taking up a temporary residence while its new home is being built in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA.

The upstart biotech effort just inked a lease on 33,000 square feet of space at 610 Main Street North, a nine-story building currently under construction near Kendall Square and adjacent to the MIT campus. This is the second MIT-owned building here, with Pfizer R&D occupying the first. The company will be co-located with CRISPR Therapeutics’ R&D ops in the center of a thriving biotech cluster that will be home for up to 80 staffers, while another group will be located in Bayer’s Mission Bay campus in San Francisco.

Under construction: 610 Main Street North

Under construction: 610 Main Street North

True to its global nature, with a possible nod to tax realities, the company will be a UK entity.

Bayer and CRISPR announced back at the end of last year that they were forming this JV, with the German pharma company committing $300 million to the company. CRISPR is adding $35 million. The new company will concentrate on blood disorders, blindness and congenital heart diseases and Bayer plans to use this R&D base to take a deep dive into gene editing for ag purposes.

CRISPR Therapeutics is one of a handful of gene editing startups that have come along to take the academic work involved in the field and translate that into new therapies. CEO Rodger Novak recently added a largely unneeded $38 million to its B round with a group of crossover investors in tow — signaling that their S-1 just about ready to roll. Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Global Investments led the fundraising, which brings the total in the B round to a whopping $140 million

Bayer’s Axel Bouchon will take the helm at Casebia as interim CEO. He’s also head of the Bayer LifeScience Center (BLSC) and new group inside Bayer that has been charged with hunting down new life science deals.

He couldn’t have found a better place to do that work. Bouchon remarked:

“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.”

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