BlueRock Raises $225M To Repair Heart Damage With Stem Cells

Xconomy Boston — 

A new stem cell therapeutics company, BlueRock Therapeutics, has launched with $225 million in funding from international healthcare giant Bayer and Versant Ventures. Using work from Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka and others, BlueRock will operate in Toronto, New York, and Boston.

The company said one of its first projects aims to repair heart muscle, injured from heart attack, with new cells created from stem cells. Yamanaka shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work turning mature mouse cells back into pluripotent stem cells—which in turn can be reprogrammed to become a wide range of cells in the body, in theory.

BlueRock said it would work with regenerative medicine specialists Gordon Keller and Michael LaFlamme of the University of Toronto on the heart repair program. It will tap the expertise of two neuroscientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Lorenz Studer and Viviane Tabar, for other work it plans to do in neurodegeneration.

Versant opened a drug discovery incubator, Blueline Bioscience, in Toronto three years ago to tap into Canadian academic work.

Bayer and Versant teamed up a year ago to create Casebia Therapeutics, a spinout of CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CSPR), which Versant helped found.

Photo courtesy of Robbie Sproule via Creative Commons.