【Industry News】Vertex plunks down $950M for stem cell player Semma Therapeutics

View Source:https://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/vertex-plunks-down-950m-for-stem-cell-player-semma-therapeutics

Sep 3, 2019

Vertex Pharmaceuticals is jumping into diabetes. The cystic fibrosis specialist is snapping up Semma Therapeutics and its stem cell-based diabetes treatments for $950 million in an all-cash deal slated to close in the fourth quarter. 

Douglas Melton, Ph.D., founded Semma in 2014 to work on a potential cure for Type 1 diabetes. His idea was turning undifferentiated pluripotent stem cells into insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells that could be transplanted into patients. The company unveiled itself the following year with a $44 million series A and a partnership with Novartis, chosen over other diabetes-focused suitors for its expertise in cell therapy. 

The biotech went on to raise a head-turning $114 million series B round in 2017 and hired Bastiano Sanna as its CEO. Sanna was formerly the chief operating officer at Magenta Therapeutics and global head of stem cell transplant programs at Novartis, where he helped oversee the Big Pharma’s CAR-T cell therapy development.