Semma goes on a successful ‘fishing’ expedition in its hunt for a diabetes cure
Semma Therapeutics is reporting some key progress in its complex pursuit of a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
In a new study published in Nature, researchers at Harvard and the biotech say they’ve made a major leap in their ability to transform stem cells into a high concentration of insulin-producing beta cells. Starting out at 30% purity, they’ve upped their average to 80%, opening the door wider to a brand new therapeutic approach.
One reason for the leap in purity was their use of a protein expressed uniquely by beta cells to fish them out of the mix.
Semma’s work is based on the years of research that went on in the lab of Harvard’s Doug Melton.
Back in the fall of 2017, when the biotech came up with a $114 million funding round, Melton estimated that they would need some 150 million cells — possibly ranging up to three times that amount — in order to provide the natural insulin needed to eliminate the shots. Their next big hurdle has been creating a tea bag of sorts to hold the cells, building it with pores large enough for molecules to pass through it but small enough to keep immune cells out.