Boston Startup Semma Therapeutics Reels in $44 Million; In Process of Hiring and Leasing Lab Space
Published: Mar 25, 2015
March 24, 2015
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
Massachusetts-based cell therapy developer Semma Therapeutics announced on March 18 that it had closed a Series A financing round worth $44 million. The startup, which is headquartered in Cambridge, is also now in the process of hiring, according to the Boston Globe. At the moment, Semma is leasing laboratory space in Harvard University to conduct its research.
MPM Capital, Fidelity Biosciences, ARCH Venture Partners and Medtronic, Inc. led the financing round. Semma has also since entered an agreement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, although the startup has not disclosed details on its new deal.
“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.”
Doug Melton, the scientific founder of Semma Therapeutics, is the Xander University professor at Harvard and co-chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. At the moment, his company is working on using stem cells to allow Type 1 diabetes patients to produce their own insulin.
Joining the MassBio Group
Semma Therapeutics is a part of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Company’s membership group, which is dedicated to promote life sciences in the local area. MassBio has more than 650 companies registered as members, 60 percent of which are biotechnology businesses.
Headquartered in Cambridge, Semma Therapeutics is at the heart of the life sciences movement in Massachusetts. Recently, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announced the recipients of a $19 million tax incentive to 11 companies in the area. Massachusetts has made its dedication to biosciences known with its Life Sciences Tax Incentive Program, established in 2008 to provide $1 billion to companies over the course of 10 years.
Semma Therapeutics is building off of discoveries made in Melton’s lab at Harvard University. Through pre-clinical work in mice, Melton has found that human stem cell-derived beta cells show high levels of insulin in their blood after a glucose challenge. This could potentially change the way that Type 1 diabetes patients maintain their sugar levels. However, Melton noted in a CBS interview that human testing is still years away.
BioSpace Temperature Poll
U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline filed a WARN letter in late February with the state of Pennsylvania indicating another 150 people would be laid off in its commercial and research and development group near Philadelphia. BioSpace wants to know if you think Pharm Country will do what it takes to keep biotech jobs in the area?