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Starting up stem cells

How Bayer and Versant are betting on iPS cell therapies with BlueRock startup

In launching BlueRock Therapeutics with a $225 million series A round, comprehensive IP portfolio and set of strategic partnerships, Versant Ventures and Bayer AG are sending a message they are not only ready to go full-throttle in regenerative medicine; they’ve done the thinking all the way through to clinical testing. The money should last a good four years, but the partners want to be in the clinic in less than half that time.

Last week, the partners announced they were creating BlueRock to develop induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell-based therapies for myocardial infarction (MI) and Parkinson’s disease. The company is one of the most well-funded start-ups in biotech history, coming behind only Immunocore Ltd., a T cell therapy company that raised a $320 million series A round last year.

“On paper, BlueRock looks like a start-up, but we’re positioning the company in such a way that it could quickly become a global leader in stem cell technology,” said Jerel Davis, a managing director at Versant.

The $225 million

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