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Semma has made two major scientific advances: the ability to produce large quantities of functional human pancreatic beta cells that restore insulin secretion and ameliorate hypoglycemia in animal models and a novel device that encapsulates and protects … The research results in the decade before its launch were encouraging, but capital investment in companies working toward a cure was sorely lacking. In the second half of 2020 Semma intends to start a second clinical trial for the broader adult type 1 diabetes population using its islet cells inside the encapsulating device and without immunosuppression. On July 1, Semma announced it had shown preclinical proof-of-concept for its two lead programs in type 1 diabetes in both non-human primates and pigs. 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. Vertex is set to acquire Semma, which is developing a stem cell curative treatment for type 1 diabetes and expects the deal to ‘rapidly advance’ its potential therapy. Semma Therapeutics and UCSF continue to work together on this approach to curing type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes has no cure. Some expressed genes consistent with glucagon production, while others had gene-expression patterns consistent with the sought-after insulin-producing beta cells.TScan's study of COVID-19 convalescent patients suggests the next wave of vaccines should focus on targets outside of the virus's spike protein.Scientists at Semma developed a second method to further boost the population of beta cells.

Led by Harvard University researchers in collaboration with scientists from Semma, the study characterized the types of cells produced by the applicable cell differentiation methods, and demonstrated biological and physical separation methods to increase the purity of beta cells in a sample of converted stem cells from 30 to 80 percent. Bastiano Sanna, president and chief executive officer of Semma, will join Vertex as president of Semma. Under the terms of the deal, Vertex will acquire all outstanding Semma shares for $950 million in cash. The first data showed how the SC-islets were infused into the portal vein, mimicking planned human clinical trials. “Unlike insulin injections and insulin pumps, islet cell transplantation can provide physiologic regulation of blood glucose thereby potentially ameliorating or preventing both the hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic episodes associated with the current standards of care.”Sanna stated, “Type 1 diabetes is a disease that afflicts millions of people worldwide and has no curative therapies available. It worked: The clustering further enriched the number of beta cells in each sample of converted stem cells, they reported.The next step for Semma’s team is to determine whether a mixture consisting of 80% beta cells will be appropriate for treating people with diabetes. Founded in 2014, Semma is working on methods to differentiate pluripotent stem cells into insulin-producing pancreatic cells as a treatment for Type 1 diabetes…

“The implications of these findings could be tremendously important in developing effective therapies for the more than 1.25 million people living with Type 1 diabetes in the U.S.,” said Bastiano Sanna, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Semma Therapeutics. When Semma raised its $44m series A round in the spring of 2015 its then chief executive, Robert Millman, told Vantage the cash would get it to proof-of-concept human data. JDRF celebrates top ten advances that make progress toward cures and improve the lives of people with T1D . Semma Therapeutics and UCSF continue to work together on this approach to curing type 1 diabetes. These findings provide a solid foundation to continue to advance Semma’s mission to develop and provide best-in-class islet cell therapies for patients.”Published results summarize the single-cell sequencing and molecular biology used to identify genes expressed by each cell and the classification of those cells based on expression patterns. “The implications of these findings could be tremendously important in developing effective therapies for the more than 1.25 million people living with Type 1 diabetes in the U.S.,” said Bastiano Sanna, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Semma Therapeutics. The progress at the new company was extremely positive, and the company would need additional funds to prove that it could manufacture beta cells at massive scale consistently and continue to develop a method to deliver those cells to people with T1D safely and without rejection.

The T1D Fund made a critical and timely investment in Semma in early 2017 to bridge the company to its next large venture round, completed later that year.Thank you for sharing your feedback with us!Enter your email address if you would like to receive a follow up.The Fund’s investment in Semma was a signal to the broader investment community that JDRF not only supported the underlying research but also was willing to risk significant capital in its commercialization.   Because most venture capital firms have never made a T1D investment, this endorsement was critical.   Just as importantly, the Fund’s investment gave the young company full access to the resources of JDRF, especially the regulatory expertise that it would need in this important next phase.The T1D Fund will receive a significant return on its investment, and those funds will all be reinvested in other exciting commercial opportunities focused on T1D.

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