University Health Network, notably the McEwen Stem Cell Institute, has long been a leader in regenerative medicine. Home to the first discovery of stem cells over 50 years ago, the momentum behind UHN’s incredible research has only continued to grow. BlueRock Therapeutics is an important part of that evolving story.
In 2016, world renowned researchers Drs. Gordon Keller and Michael LaFlamme established BlueRock – bringing their pioneering stem cell work into a commercialized solution with the potential to do large scale manufacturing of specialized stem cells suitable to treat patients. The company launched having secured US$225 million from venture capital firm Versant Ventures and German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, in the second-largest series A financing in the history of biotechnology in Canada at the time. To facilitate the agreement, UHN Commercialization worked closely with representatives from Versant, Bayer, the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) and UHN’s McEwen Stem Cell Institute to negotiate initial company creation/foundational platform licensing, and to set up a a Master Research Agreement to fund future work at UHN.
This funding helped to build and support R&D facilities in Toronto, New York and Boston – bringing together academic and industry partners with a goal to enable the volume manufacture of suitable, specialized stem cells to treat patients around the world.
Today, BlueRock's proprietary cell + gene platform addresses various diseases including cardiovascular disease and Parkinson’s disease.
In 2019, BlueRock’s incredible success continued when the company was fully acquired by Bayer AG, a renowned leader in regenerative medicines, for a total company valuation of approximately USD$1.3 billion. The acquisition has enabled UHN’s stem cell discoveries to accelerate translation to commercialized solutions with a significant global impact.
In 2019, BlueRock’s incredible success continued when the company was fully acquired by Bayer AG, a renowned leader in regenerative medicines, for a total company valuation of approximately USD$1.3 billion.
Today, BlueRock is a growing company with an estimated annual revenue stream of over US$60 Million. The company continues to build on its early successes in Toronto from within its local 10,000 square foot state-of-the-art R&D facility, with a Toronto footprint at UHN’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Research Tower. It continues ongoing collaboration with UHN to drive innovation and value. The relationship spans sponsored research and service agreements, helping the company draw on the stellar infrastructure offered by UHN facilities where over 100 employees work on engineered stem cell therapies for cardiac indications in collaboration with UHN’s McEwen Stem Cell Institute.
Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President of Science and Research at UHN, comments, “BlueRock is playing a leading role in the advancement and development of revolutionary and best-in-class cell therapies for patients. It is a great example of the wealth of opportunities available in Toronto and at UHN, and illustrates how basic research can lay the foundation for success.”