Sema4 Begins Trading, Eyes Healthcare Partnerships, Liquid Biopsy

July 23, 2021

By Allison Proffitt

July 23, 2021 | The board members of both Sema4 and CM Life Sciences voted this week to approve the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by affiliates of Casdin Capital, LLC and Corvex Management LP. The resulting combined company, Sema4 Holdings Corp (“Sema4”), will commence trading of its shares of common stock and warrants on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbols "SMFR" and “SMFRW” today or Monday.

Sema4 announced the planned merger in February after closing a $121M series C in August 2020. “As we came out of our Series C financing late last summer, I made the decision that we wanted to invest more aggressively in the health system partnerships to push the uptake of our solutions more rapidly and fill gaps to deliver a more holistic precision medicine solutions,” Eric Schadt, Founder and CEO of Sema4, told Bio-IT World.

The SPAC enables that, freeing approximately $500 million in cash proceeds for the company to use.

Schadt plans to use the funds to increase uptake of Sema4’s health platforms in healthcare systems, beginning with learning-based partnerships with a small number of health systems, and investments in integration.

The vision for Sema4’s standardized genomics platform, Schadt explained, is “to be able to generate data once on a patient but use it multiple times to influence through the life course of that patient as a medical need arose.” But there are still many challenges for healthcare systems to use such platforms practically and layering all of these components will take further investment.

For example, Schadt said, “How do you enable a health system to take that kind of information, integrate it with electronic medical record data for data that’s generated on a patient through the health system, and make that maximally useful to the physicians and the system in terms of providing differentiated insights on a patient’s condition or risk?”

Sema4 also plans to invest in new technology offerings. “Then there are gaps that we had in some of our offerings to deliver holistic genomic testing solutions,” Schadt said. He highlighted liquid biopsy in particular. “Filling those gaps through either strategic partnerships or even acquisition is another inorganic way to grow the company and accelerate uptake,” he said.  

Schadt and Sema4’s current executive team will continue to lead the combined company. Several new individuals will join the board including Eli Casdin, former Chief Executive Officer of CM Life Sciences; Emily Leproust, Chief Executive Officer of Twist Biosciences; Jason Ryan, most recently Chief Operating and Financial Officer of Magenta Therapeutics; and Nat Turner, co-founder of Flatiron Health (a Roche company).