New startup BlueRock Therapeutics just received a cool cash injection of US$225 million, courtesy of Bayer and Versant Ventures.
The average Series A financing for a drug company runs around $21 million. New startup BlueRock Therapeutics, by contrast, just received a cool cash injection of US$225 million, courtesy of Bayer and Versant Ventures. It’s one of the largest Series As ever for a biotech—and that has people talking. Where did BlueRock come from? And what might you expect from this upstart—especially now that it’s flush?
First things first: if you hadn’t heard of BlueRock before today, don’t beat yourself up. The company is brand new. BlueRock launched on December 12, 2016 as a joint venture between Bayer (OTC:BAYRY, ETR:BAYN, FRA:BAYN) and Versant Ventures.
Heralded as “a next-generation regenerative medicine company,” BlueRock will focus on induced pluripotent stem cell therapies in order to treat cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. It has four years to bring some of those programs into the clinic—according to projections, that’s how long the $225 mill will last.
First in BlueRock’s pipeline? A program designed to regenerate heart muscle in patients post heart-attack, or in those with chronic heart failure. BlueRock will partner with the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and University Health Network on this project, with the goal of using pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes to restore heart function.
But that won’t be BlueRock’s only partner. According to Bayer and Versant Venture’s joint statement, the company will have a long term collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. The focus here will be neurological diseases.
Meanwhile, BlueRock’s manufacturing will be facilitated by CCRM, a Toronto-based company that develops regenerative medicine technologies.
“We have closely tracked the field of regenerative medicine for the past five years and believe the time is right to invest in stem cell therapies,” Versant Venture’s Dr. Jerel Davis said, pointing to “recent breakthroughs in cell differentiation, manufacturing and engineering.”
They aren’t alone in that belief. As Life Science News has reported elsewhere, numerous companies seem to be making moves to acquire stem cell research companies.
Further, venture funding for biotech seems to be increasing overall—not just in the stem cell space. According to the most recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, which looks at data from the third quarter of 2016, biotech is becoming a major magnet for venture capital. In the United States, the industry received the second largest amount of funding—some $1.8 billion across 87 deals.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Chelsea Pratt, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.