Asklepios Biopharmaceutical, Inc. and Bayer Healthcare, LLC Announce Collaboration on Gene Therapy for the Treatment of Hemophilia
"We are looking forward to working closely with one of the world's most respected and innovative health care companies. Bayer HealthCare has a long-standing and proactive commitment to providing innovative and life-saving treatment. This important collaboration facilitates the first steps toward a combined platform of expertise and resources jointly focused on advancing care for the global hemophilia community," said Sheila Mikhail, CEO of AskBio.
“Because gene therapy may offer the potential for a cure in hemophilia, it represents the ultimate opportunity to provide patients the freedom to fulfill their aspirations and live the lives they choose.”
AskBio is currently conducting preclinical testing of a synthetically designed biological nano particle (BNP) gene therapy, containing the factor IX gene for the treatment of hemophilia B. BNPs are designed to deliver the factor IX gene into patient muscle cells and produce sustained expression of factor IX. Factor IX levels in excess of 3 percent of normal levels are expected to substantially reduce spontaneous bleeding episodes and reduce or eliminate patients' dependence on repeated injections of clotting factors.
"This partnership with AskBio is another example of our focus on scientific advances to create a better life for people living with hemophilia," said Joseph Akers, president of Bayer Biological Products. "Because gene therapy may offer the potential for a cure in hemophilia, it represents the ultimate opportunity to provide patients the freedom to fulfill their aspirations and live the lives they choose." Michael Fournel, senior vice president of Research and Development at Bayer BP discussed the importance of this new technology. "The agreement builds on our past extensive work in this area. The BNP technology represents the most advanced vector for delivering gene therapy, and we are anxious to determine its potential for clinical development."
Approximately 50,000 people in North America and Europe, and as many as 400,000 people around the world have hemophilia. Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder characterized by prolonged or spontaneous bleeding, especially into the muscles, joints, or internal organs. The disease is caused by deficient or defective blood coagulation proteins, known as factor VIII or IX. The most common form of the disease is hemophilia A, or classic hemophilia, in which the clotting factor VIII is either deficient or defective. Hemophilia B is characterized by deficient or defective factor IX.
About Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc.
AskBio is a private development-stage biotechnology company engaged in the development of novel, gene therapy mediated protein therapies using a proprietary Biological Nano Particle ("BNP(TM)") technology platform. BNPs may be used to deliver a broad variety of biological material to a cell, including therapeutic genes, monoclonal antibodies, RNAi, and vaccines, among others. The company's mature intellectual property portfolio is the result of over $35 million in government grants and other funding and is based on the scientific work of Professor R. Jude Samulski, Director of Gene Therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The company is currently engaged in multiple gene therapy based therapeutic programs and will commence a Phase I clinical trial for its Duchene Muscular Dystrophy program in 2005. For additional information, visit AskBio's Web site at http://www.askbio.com
About Bayer HealthCare AG
Bayer HealthCare AG, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the health care and medical products industry. In 2004, the Bayer HealthCare subgroup generated sales amounting to some 8.5 billion Euro.
The company combines the global activities of the divisions Animal Health, Biological Products, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care, Diagnostics and Pharmaceuticals. Bayer HealthCare employed 35,300 people worldwide in 2004.
Bayer HealthCare's aim is to discover and manufacture innovative products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. The products enhance well-being and quality of life by diagnosing, preventing and treating disease.
Information about Bayer Biological Products Division can be found at www.bayerbiologicals.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in our public reports filed with the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including our Form 20-F). The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.