March 24, 2015
Semma Therapeutics Announces $44 Million in Funding Led by MPM Capital to Develop Cell Therapy for Treating Type 1 Diabetes; Signs Agreement with Global Pharmaceutical Company
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 24, 2015 – Semma Therapeutics, a company developing a cell therapy for Type 1 diabetes, announced today that it has closed a $44 million Series A consisting of equity financing and strategic funding. The Series A financing is led by MPM Capital, with Fidelity Biosciences, ARCH Venture Partners, and Medtronic participating. Alongside the equity financing, Semma entered into an undisclosed agreement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
Doug Melton, PhD, is the Scientific Founder of Semma Therapeutics. Dr. Melton is the Xander University Professor at Harvard and Co-Chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
In a paper published in the journal Cell last October, Dr. Melton and his lab reported for the first time a procedure that has the potential to generate a nearly unlimited supply of pancreatic beta cells that secrete the hormone insulin in a regulated manner. These cells are responsible for keeping blood sugar levels in balance and are destroyed in Type 1 diabetic patients. The discovery has been hailed as one of the most important advances to date in the stem cell field.
“The ability to generate glucose-responsive, human beta cells through controlled differentiation of stem cells will accelerate the development of new therapeutics and I am thrilled and honored to be part of it,” said Robert Millman, co-founder of Semma and MPM Capital Managing Director who is joining Semma as Chief Executive Officer. “We have assembled an experienced team with a track record of success in drug development. Our goal is to ensure we bring this remarkable discovery to patients as quickly as possible to reduce or eliminate their reliance on daily insulin injections.”
The combination of Series A financing and the Novartis agreement is expected to fund Semma to advance the program through clinical proof-of-concept in man.
“Semma represents how we bring industry and investors together to foster the formation of companies around new technologies and innovations developed within Harvard’s research enterprise,” said Isaac Kohlberg, Senior Associate Provost and Chief Technology Development Officer at Harvard University. “It demonstrates our mission to bring cutting-edge science from lab to clinic to improve patients’ quality of life and to benefit society.”