Bayer: Transforming Healthcare through Collaborations and Breakthrough Innovation

Finding effective solutions to the world’s health issues requires novel, holistic approaches and collaborative ingenuity. Healthcare companies must therefore increasingly shift their focus to the research and development of medical technologies, biopharmaceuticals, and innovative therapies to treat conditions and diseases that are difficult or nearly impossible to tackle using traditional medicines.

Such a reality is well understood by Bayer AG. The German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company recently held its Virtual Pharma Media Day, where it shared with media professionals around the world the exciting progress it has made over the past year. The event, which was translated into 11 different languages, showcased some of Bayer’s investments in external innovation through an unprecedented number of collaboration agreements and acquisitions – 25 in total in 2020. Bayer specialists also outlined some of the assets in its robust development pipeline.

To kick off the event, Emile Nuwaysir, CEO and president of BlueRock Therapeutics, and Sheila Mikhail, co-founder and CEO of Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), introduced a few of Bayer’s most recent strides in the area of cell and gene therapy. BlueRock, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer, is involved in the development of stem cell treatments to restore lost motor function in patients with Parkinson’s Disease, as well as other degenerative conditions. AskBio’s AAV-based gene therapy, meanwhile, has shown promise in treating a range of conditions, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), and as a therapeutic for late-stage heart failure.

Stefan Oelrich, Member of the Board of Management and President, Pharmaceuticals Division, Bayer

Fielding questions from the audience, Stefan Oelrich, a member of the Bayer AG Board of Management and President of its Pharmaceuticals Division, said that the company’s acquisitions of BlueRock and AskBio was just part of its strategy to transform the pharma business.

“Our company is at the forefront of the wave of innovation in cell and gene therapy as well as digital health,” Oelrich said. “We are driving this transformation and growing our promising development portfolio together with our partners.” 

Next to address Bayer’s evolving approach to digital healthcare was Jeff Dachis, founder and CEO of Informed Data Systems, Inc. (One Drop), with whom Bayer has joined forces to develop digital products across multiple therapeutic areas. Dachis related his personal experience being diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus, saying that his treatment reflected the current medical system’s view of patients with chronic conditions as “discrete silos of medical interventions.”

Dachis hopes to change that perception and transform the current care paradigm. He argues for a personalized approach to treatment, empowering patients to make informed, healthy decisions and take a more active role in their own healthcare. One Drop’s existing diabetes management approach has been expanded through its collaboration with Bayer into a holistic digital therapeutics platform. This technology offers a digital, smart form of integrated care that learns from vast amounts of data and puts the focus on individual patients, not their disease.

Through this and other adaptive technologies, Oelrich said in the Q&A session, Bayer and its collaborators were working toward “making medicines just an accessory to the overall care of patients.”

Finishing the discussion regarding Bayer’s recent progress were medical doctor So-Young Kim and Oliver Martin Fischer, principal scientist of the company’s Reproductive Health Research team, who both updated the audience about some of the medicines currently in Bayer’s mid-stage pharmaceuticals pipeline. Kim, who heads Bayer’s thrombosis and vascular diseases department, discussed the company’s new class of anti-coagulation medicines, which involve Factor XI (FXI) inhibitors. Based on the company’s research, these drugs could be a promising means of preventing the formation of blood clots and, in effect, of thrombosis.

Fischer introduced Bayer’s P2X3 multi-indication program. P2X3 antagonists have been identified for endometriosis, a clinical condition affecting 10% of reproductive-age women that can cause severe chronic pain, as well as other conditions associated with pain and neurogenic hypersensitivity that can affect patients’ quality of life. Bayer’s advances in this area could potentially offer such patients a new treatment approach and relief, allowing them to start getting back to their normal lives.

As the presentations and discussions that took place during the Virtual Pharma Media Day clearly indicated, Bayer is working collaboratively on a comprehensive set of breakthrough treatments. By making tangible progress in the areas of cell and gene therapy and digital health, as well as building and expanding on its impressive development portfolio, Bayer continues to show its strong commitment to transforming patient health.