Clinical-Genomic Company Sema4 to Merge with CM Life Sciences

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Genomic and clinical data company Sema4 announced today it will merge with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) CM Life Sciences sponsored by Casdin Capital, LLC and Corvex Management LP. Upon closing of the transaction, expected in the second quarter, CM Life Sciences will be renamed and its stock listed on Nasdaq.

CM Life Sciences currently holds $443 million in a trust account and will raise an additional $350 million in a private investment in public equity (PIPE) including funds advised by Casdin Capital and Corvex Management. Of that total, up to $343 million will be paid to current Sema4 investors with the remaining cash available for operation of the business. The deal values Sema4 at $2 billion.

Other PIPE investors include Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley), Perceptive Advisors, SB Management, a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc and Viking Global Investors, and existing investors including funds and accounts managed by Blackrock and Deerfield Management, among other top-tier healthcare investors.

“This transaction is a significant milestone for Sema4,” said Eric Schadt, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Sema4 in a press release. “The additional resources will allow us to greatly accelerate our business plans organically and inorganically, developing and bringing in more cutting-edge precision model solutions across multiple disease areas. This is the most exciting time in the history of our industry and I look forward to working closely with Eli, Keith, and their teams, to deliver on the massive potential to transform clinical and life sciences through better leveraging of data.”

Since its founding in 2015, Sema4 has been focused on accruing enough genomic and patient data for it to apply machine-learning and artificial intelligence algorithms in order to develop a clearer understanding of the drivers of disease, with the ultimate goal of helping drive more precise patient care. Schadt, previously worked in pharma and life sciences companies, and as the founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai Hospital, where he saw the need to translate an AI-driven approach to patient data into clinical practice. While being in a healthcare setting might seem to have been the perfect place to do that via the disease models his team was building, Schadt knew there was something missing.

“The models themselves, while good enough to drive drug discovery, and good enough to get cool publications, they were not good enough to meet the clinical threshold of going into practice. That was a much higher bar,” Schadt told Clinical OMICs in an interview in late 2020. “I wondered why weren’t the models good enough? It turns out it wasn’t algorithms, it was scale of data. Even with a system like Mt. Sinai’s, and millions of patients of data, it simply wasn’t dense enough and longitudinal enough to build the most accurate models for clinical decision making. If you wanted to do that, you would need to go beyond the walls of Mt. Sinai.”

Now, more than five years later, the company has established what it deems the largest, most comprehensive, and fastest growing integrated genomic  and clinical data platform. Its database includes more than 10 million patient genomic profiles and de-identified clinical records, integrated and delivered to allow physicians to proactively diagnose and manage disease. The virtuous cycle of data helps improve decision making but also accelerates the development of next generation diagnostic tools and therapeutics.

“We exist in a remarkable period of time as the life sciences and broad healthcare industries undergo a technology-driven data revolution,” said Eli Casdin, founder and CIO of Casdin Capital. “The disruptive promise in combining these genomic and clinical data sets, at the patient level, is profound but takes a team of experts, the right business model, and lots of growth capital. We therefore could not be more excited to lend our partnership and fill the balance sheet for the foremost leader in the field, Eric Schadt and the expert team he’s assembled at Sema4.”

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