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Bayer, the German drug and agriculture conglomerate, is purchasing an under-the-rader gene therapy firm for as much as $4 billion.

The firm, Asklepios Biopharmaceutical, is widely known as AskBio and has existed for 20 years as the vehicle for commercializing the work of its chief scientific officer, Richard Jude Samulski, one of gene therapy’s pioneers. AskBio, based in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, was founded in 2001 based on technology Samulski started working on as a graduate student.


“The whole thing emerged out of academics,” Samulski, 66, told STAT in an interview. “We’re not drugmakers. Yet there was no cookbook on how to make gene therapy, in the pharma world or anywhere else.” It became something new — a merger of virology, his expertise, and molecular biology.

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