Vertex To Acquire Semma Therapeutics for $950 Million

By Emily Forster -

September 12, 2019

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to acquire Semma Therapeutics, a privately held biotechnology company specializing in Type 1 diabetes treatments, for $950 million in cash.

Semma has developed a therapeutic approach to address the causal human biology of Type 1 diabetes. It is focused on advancing methods for generating functional, insulin-producing beta cells grown from stem cells in the laboratory, which develop in islet-like clusters.  In addition to pursuing direct intra-hepatic transplantation of these islet cells, ongoing research at Semma is focused on combining these proprietary cells with a cell device and immune protection strategy that can protect these cells from the patient’s immune system and allow the beta cells to function as they do in non-diabetic individuals. The implantation of the islet cell-filled device has the potential to replace the missing beta cells in a diabetic patient without requiring patient immunosuppression. The companies note that islet cell transplantation can provide physiologic regulation of blood glucose, potentially ameliorating or preventing both the hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic episodes associated with current standards of care.

Under the agreement, Vertex will acquire all outstanding shares of Semma for $950 million in cash, and Semma will become a separate operating subsidiary of Vertex. Dr. Bastiano Sanna, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Semma, will join Vertex as President of Semma. Also, Dr. Douglas Melton PhD, Scientific Founder of Semma, will continue in his role as Chair of Semma’s Scientific Advisory Board and provide oversight and guidance on the research and development of the programs.

The companies anticipate the acquisition will close in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Source: Vertex Pharmaceuticals