Case Study
October 3, 2016

The Splice of Life

CRISPR’s CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology presents game-changing and potentially curative treatments for a variety of human genetic diseases. But to bring the technology to market and begin treating patients, CRISPR needed a partner with the right mix of experience, resources and reach. Enter the Bayer LifeScience Center, a new R&D unit of Bayer – a 150-year-old global enterprise – focused entirely on the development of ultimate breakthroughs. CRISPR turned to Goodwin to help the two groups join forces.

Discovered in a bacteria and delivered in an enzyme, it acts like a molecular scissors, cutting out, editing and correcting disease-associated DNA. It could one day cure blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart disease and a host of hereditary diseases. It may sound like science fiction, but Goodwin client CRISPR Therapeutics developed this groundbreaking technology. And in the first long-term strategic partnership of its kind, CRISPR entered a joint venture agreement with Bayer to bring it to patients.

Given the historic potential of CRISPR’s technology, Goodwin attorneys sought a joint venture agreement that ensured the satisfaction of both parties while improving the prospects of a promising treatments for genetic diseases. Combining expertise with cross-border corporate transactions with intellectual property licensing,Goodwin attorneys were able to structure the formation of a new company tailor-made to accelerate the development of this groundbreaking technology into potential human therapeutics.

CRISPR and Bayer agreed to their joint venture in late 2015 with Bayer providing $300 million in R&D investments over the next five years while acquiring a minority investment in CRISPR Therapeutics for $35 million. Based in London, the joint venture began operating in early 2016. Research operations in Cambridge, Mass. are underway and CRISPR hopes to begin helping patients as soon as 2017. If successful, chronic diseases that now require lifelong drug treatments could wind up edited out of existence.