MPM Capital led the round for Cambridge, Mass.-based Semma. Fidelity Biosciences and Arch Venture Partners also participated.
Scientific founder Doug Melton is co-chair of the Harvard University’s Stem Cell & Regenerative Biology department. Melton’s lab work identified a way to produce billions of functional, insulin-producing beta cells in the laboratory.
That technology is exclusively licensed to Semma with an eye on developing a cell-based treatment for diabetes. Researchers envision combining the cells with a medical device that would help replace missing beta cells in diabetic patients without immunosuppression, Semma said.
"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," new CEO Robert Millman, co-founder of Semma and MPM Capital managing director, said in prepared remarks. "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."
Medtronic’s Dr. Stephen Oesterle, senior vice president for medicine & technology, joined Semma as a board observer, Semma said.
Medtronic earlier this month invested in another diabetes-focused company, Glooko, joining its $16.5 million Series B round. Glooko is developing diabetes management software designed to link more than 30 blood glucose testing systems with smartphones.