Medtronic, Novartis Back Implantable Beta Cell Diabetes Device in $44M Series A, Partnership

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Source: Fierce Medical Devices

Semma Therapeutics aims to provide beta cells--the pancreatic cells that produce insulin--to patients with Type 1 diabetes. If the startup can get beyond early research, an implantable device that creates insulin via these stem cell-derived beta cells could replace daily insulin injections and transform patient care.

But myriad potential technical difficulties would need to be surmounted, including the production of the beta cells, keeping the cells alive and functioning in a device as well as producing sufficient insulin to replace injections--and doing all this without triggering an immune reaction with the introduction of foreign cells.

Several top-flight strategic and venture investors are betting that Semma can accomplish all that. MPM Capital created the company with scientific founder Doug Melton, co-chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. The startup has exclusive license to his work creating functional beta cells from stem cells in the laboratory.

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