CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Mar 24, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- 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.”
Semma’s board of directors consists of Todd Foley and Jim Scopa Managing Directors at MPM Capital, Steven Knight Managing Partner at Fidelity Biosciences, Mitch Finer CSO at bluebird bio, and Robert Millman, the company’s CEO. Stephen Oesterle, Senior Vice President for Medicine and Technology at Medtronic, joins as a board observer.
“We’ve been following Dr. Melton’s work for years and incubating Semma since last summer,” said Todd Foley, MPM Managing Director and Semma founding board member. “MPM is thrilled to be working to revolutionize the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.”
About Semma Therapeutics
Semma Therapeutics was founded to develop transformative therapies for Type 1 diabetes patients. Recent work in the laboratory of Professor Douglas Melton led to the discovery of a method to generate billions of functional, insulin-producing beta cells in the laboratory. This breakthrough technology has been exclusively licensed to Semma Therapeutics for the development of a cell-based therapy for diabetes. Ongoing research at Semma Therapeutics is focused on combining these proprietary cells with a state-of-the-art device to provide a true replacement for the missing beta cells in a diabetic patient without immunosuppression. Semma Therapeutics is working to bring this new therapeutic option to the clinic and improve the lives of patients with diabetes. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. For more information, visit www.semma-tx.com.
About MPM Capital
MPM Capital is a global leader in early-stage life sciences venture investing with a track-record of success in building world-class companies around transformational treatments and cures. With its deep experience, dedicated team of operating executives and distinguished MSAB, MPM Capital is powering medical breakthroughs that change lives.
About Fidelity Biosciences
Fidelity Biosciences (www.fidelitybiosciences.com) invests venture capital in biopharmaceutical, medical technology, healthcare information technology and healthcare service companies. The firm is a subsidiary of FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services. For more than 40 years, Fidelity has been a significant presence in the venture capital and private equity industry.
About Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development
The Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD) is responsible for all activities pertaining to the evaluation, patenting and licensing of new inventions and discoveries made at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. OTD's mission is to promote the public good by fostering innovation and translating new inventions made at Harvard into useful products available and beneficial to society.
SOURCE: Semma Therapeutics
Michele Galen, +1-201-400-4945
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