Bayer to exploit human, animal & plant synergies


The life sciences company said that genetic information stored in the form of DNA is one aspect shared by all living organisms. In depth research in this field could open up major opportunities for mankind.  

“While people, animals and plants differ considerably in appearance, the differences in their underlying ‘blueprints’ are not all that dramatic. In the human population, 99.5 to 100 per cent of all genes are identical. Only minimal sequence differences exist, which makes people unique,” said the group.

Humans share over 90 per cent of their DNA with cats, and as much as half with fruit flies. Humans also have over 20 per cent of genes in common with plants, offering new starting points in research projects.


(READ MORE: Healthcare innovation, vital to Africa’s economic growth)

One research project dealing with energy production in cells has already shown initial success.

The new nematicide Velum/Verango, originating from three product families that treat fungal infections in plants, was introduced to the market in 2014 to protect crops against nemtodes in the soil.

This method of energy production in cells may also be relevant in the growth of cancer cells.

This is a perfect example of the synergies among the life sciences,” said Kemal Malik, Bayer management board member responsible for innovation.

He added that innovative research projects can no longer be managed by companies alone. Partnerships with institutes, universities and start-up companies are therefore vital. 

“It is no longer possible today for a company to manage all areas of innovation itself. Strategic cooperation agreements and alliances therefore are an integral part of the innovation chain of all successful, research-based companies” said Malik.

Bayer HealthCare and CropScience currently maintains 850 partnerships such as with a joint research facility with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in order to improve the lives of cancer patients.

This year, the company’s research and development (R&D) budget reached 3.2 billion euros. Of this amount, Bayer HealthCare accounts for 70 per cent and Bayer CropScience for 30 per cent.

 “Overall, we expect the R&D-to-sales ratio to increase in the coming years,” said Marijn Dekkers, management board chairman of the group.

In the pharmaceutical segment, 25 Phase III clinical studies have been completed since 2010 while 30 new active ingredients were introduced to the market between 2000 and 2013 by CropScience. Last year, Bayer applied for 500 patents in the life sciences sector.

(READ MORE: Bayer makes Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 15th time)

“Our business models, whether in HealthCare or CropScience, have many similarities. These include an excellent research organisation, strong growth and innovative marketing. Bayer is a trendsetter in research-intensive fields,” said Dekker.

Some of the ground breaking initiatives from the group include anticoagulant Xarelto to prevent strokes, Eylea to improve eye vision as well as Stivarga and Xofigo which can inhibit tumour growths in certain types of cancer.