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Bayer Acquires Vividion Therapeutics for up to $2B

NEW YORK – Bayer on Thursday announced plans to acquire Vividion Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $2 billion.

Bayer will pay $1.5 billion upfront in the deal, along with potential success-based milestone payments of up to $500 million. The company will own full rights to Vividion's drug discovery platform and its pipeline of precision oncology and immunology drugs.

The latest acquisition follows Bayer's purchase of BlueRock Therapeutics in 2019 and the cell and gene therapy firm Asklepios BioPharmaceutical in 2020. "This acquisition is a cornerstone of our strategy to fuel our pipeline with breakthrough innovation," Stefan Oelrich, president of Bayer's pharmaceutical division, said in a statement. "Vividion's technology … has demonstrated its ability to identify drug candidates that can target challenging proteins."

San Diego-based Vividion will continue to operate as an independent unit after the acquisition, which is expected to close in Q3 2021. Credit Suisse is serving as financial adviser to Bayer, and Baker McKenzie is serving as legal counsel. Centerview Partners is serving as financial adviser and Cooley LLP is serving as legal counsel to Vividion.

Vividion's lead products include an NRF2 antagonist, which it is developing as a treatment of NRF2-mutant cancers and NRF2 activators for various inflammatory diseases, such as irritable bowel disease. Both drugs are currently in the lead optimization stage of preclinical development. Vividion has other preclinical drugs in development including one targeting STAT3 and another targeting WRN. All of Vividion's pipeline candidates were discovered using its chemoproteomics platform.

"Our proprietary chemoproteomic platform technology addresses the key limitations of conventional screening techniques and allows us to discover previously unknown, or cryptic, functional pockets on the surface of proteins and identify small molecules that selectively bind to those targets," Vividion CEO Jeff Hatfield said in a statement. "When combined with Bayer's expertise in the development of small molecules … an unparalleled position comes into existence to unlock undruggable targets and generate first-in-class novel compounds for the benefit of patients."

Vividion was founded in 2017 and has raised $267 million to date in three funding rounds, most recently a $135 million Series C round in February. The company also has drug discovery and research partnerships with Celgene and Roche.