Semma Therapeutics Raises $44 Million to Commercialize T1D Stem-Cell Research from Doug Melton’s Harvard Lab

Today, in an article entitled “Biotech startup to fight diabetes on the cellular front,” The Boston Globe announced that a new company has been founded to commercialize T1D research out of Dr. Doug Melton’s laboratory at Harvard University. The JDCA’s 2014 State of the Cure report identified this work as an emerging Practical Cure (i.e. headed toward but not yet in human trials).   

  • The company, Semma Therapeutics, has already raised $44 Million from venture capital funds. 
  • Semma Therapeutics will focus on T1D applications derived from Melton’s research, which endeavors to use a line of stem cells to create insulin-producing beta cells.   
  • The timing of this new company is surprising given that the T1D work from Melton’s lab has not begun human trials and there appears to be a long road ahead before a product is ready for commercialization.
  • In the best case, the formation of this new company will accelerate speed to market of Melton’s research. Given that it is a potential Practical Cure pathway, the JDCA hopes to see a project enter human trials as soon as possible.

For further background information, the JDCA wrote a summary, “A Practical Cure Perspective on Doug Melton’s Research” (October 15, 2014).  Joshua Levy also wrote a more in-depth analysis entitled “A Cautionary Tale from Dr. Melton’s Lab at Harvard” (January 15, 2015). Both are well worth a read.