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Bayer’s BlueRock inks cardiovascular cell therapy delivery deal

Bayer’s BlueRock Therapeutics has partnered with BioCardia on the delivery of cell therapies, paying a “sizable” upfront fee to access minimally invasive technology that could get its heart failure candidates to their targets.

BlueRock is built on a platform for programming mature, differentiated cells back to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). By then re-differentiating the iPSCs, the biotech aims to replace cells damaged or lost to disease. BlueRock is applying the platform to a clutch of therapeutic areas, including cardiology. The cardiology program is seeking to replace the cells lost after a cardiac event to restore heart function.

One challenge posed by the program is how to get the re-differentiated iPSCs to the heart. In scouting around for a solution, BlueRock has found BioCardia, the developer of a percutaneous catheter delivery system for cardiovascular regenerative medicine.

The technology enables a needle to advance from a blood vessel in the groin to the heart. Upon reaching the heart, the needle is rotated into the beating tissue to ensure stability and control during delivery. The technology, which has a CE mark, is being used in preclinical and clinical investigations and cell, gene and protein therapies.

BlueRock is paying an upfront fee, a portion of which is creditable for biotherapeutic delivery products and support services, to work with BioCardia. The time-limited deal includes an option to negotiate for a non-exclusive worldwide license to BioCardia biotherapeutic delivery product candidates for certain cell types for cardiac indications.

“We look forward to working with BlueRock to deliver their therapeutic candidates locally to the heart. Our efforts under this agreement have potential to benefit BlueRock’s cardiovascular programs, which could ultimately benefit patients with cardiovascular disease and their families,” BioCardia CEO Peter Altman said in a statement.