March 22, 2021

SemaThera enters into a Research Collaboration and Exclusive License Agreement with Roche

MONTREAL – (BUSINESS WIRE)SemaThera Inc. today announced the signing of a multi-year research collaboration and licensing agreement with Roche. The partnership will focus on developing SemaThera’s promising new class of biologicals for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy and other ischemic retinal diseases.

“We are very enthusiastic about combining our knowledge of the underlying biology of novel Semaphorin 3A antagonists with Roche’s expertise in the development and commercialization of innovative biologicals in ophthalmology. We are therefore excited to work together with Roche to pave the way for novel treatment options that may have the potential to benefit patients that currently have few or no options” said Garth Cumberlidge, Ph.D., CEO of SemaThera. “By supporting blood vessel regrowth into avascular areas of the retina and preventing excessive VEGF production and neovascularization, we aim to provide patients with a potentially disease-modifying treatment for retinal ischemia.”

“Discovering and developing novel drugs for the treatment of serious retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy is one of our focus areas within ophthalmology”, said James Sabry, Global Head, Roche Pharma Partnering. “We are looking forward to working together with SemaThera to explore the full potential of these novel biologics in addressing an area of high unmet medical need.”


Diabetic retinopathy is an ocular complication of diabetes mellitus. While the pathogenesis is unclear, hallmark features include vaso-obliteration, ischemia, excessive VEGF production, and vascular permeability. These changes result in vision loss. While anti-VEGF injections are the standard of care, not all patients respond to treatment in a similar manner. Improved therapies are therefore needed.


SemaThera ( is a Montreal-based biotech company focusing on the development of novel therapies for the treatment of several retinopathies, including diabetic macular edema and wet age-related macular degeneration. SemaThera holds exclusive rights to various technologies where Semaphorin 3A is involved in neo-angiogenesis, senescence and neuronal regeneration.

 SemaThera was launched in 2016 by early-stage investor AmorChem L.P. following its pre-seed investment in Prof. Prezmyslaw (Mike) Sapieha’s laboratory at the Centre Intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal – Installation Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont. Prof. Sapieha is a world leader in the biology of the Semaphorin pathways and AmorChem collaborated closely with him to accelerate the discovery of a drug that would promote retinal blood vessel regrowth in avascular areas while avoiding excessive neovascularization. SemaThera has benefited from the financial support of the fund and of its Japanese partner Senju Pharmaceutical Co., LTD.

November 1, 2018

SemaThera Board Names Garth Cumberlidge as President & CEO

MONTREAL – (BUSINESS WIRE) November 1st, 2018, SemaThera Inc., announces today that its board of directors has appointed Garth Cumberlidge as President and Chief Executive Officer.  Dr. Cumberlidge was also elected to the board of directors of SemaThera. He will lead the company’s development programs in diabetic macular edema and other degenerative retinopathies. Its lead compound, ST-102, is a bispecific recombinant protein trap, binding both VEGF and SEMA3A.

“AmorChem is proud to welcome Garth Cumberlidge to the SemaThera team. Since its creation, the company has generated very strong preclinical data and has already secured Senju Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. as development partner in Japan and China. Garth’s extensive background in ophthalmology drug development, fundraising expertise and experience in nurturing early-stage assets is a perfect match for SemaThera’s needs. In addition, Maxime Ranger, general partner at AmorChem, who was interim CEO of SemaThera, will continue to serve as Chairman and bring his extensive early-stage development expertise,” said Elizabeth Douville, co-founder and managing partner at AmorChem.

“I am excited to have been given the opportunity to lead SemaThera and am extremely impressed with the quality of the decade-long scientific research work that forms the foundation of the company,” said Garth Cumberlidge. “Professor Mike (Przemyslaw) Sapieha and his co-workers have made some very significant discoveries that have led to the understanding of the function of semaphorins in general and semaphorin 3A in particular in both ocular and systemic pathologies and we are very fortunate to be able to continue to benefit from Mike’s scientific guidance, as Chief Scientific Officer, as we take the first lead compound into clinical studies.”

SemaThera ( is a Montreal-based biotech company focused on the development of novel anti-SEMA3A therapies for the treatment of several retinopathies, including diabetic macular edema and wet age-related macular degeneration. SemaThera holds exclusive rights to various SEMA3A based technologies, where semaphorin 3A is involved in neo-angiogenesis, senescence and neuronal regeneration. Such technologies may also become future therapies in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

August 12, 2018

Execution of the Collaborative Development License and Exclusive Option Agreement for anti-Semaphorin 3A antibody developed by Chiome Bioscience

MONTREAL, Quebec – Chiome Bioscience Inc. (hereinafter, “Chiome”) announced today that it has executed a Collaborative Development License and Exclusive Option Agreement (hereinafter, “Agreement”) with SemaThera Inc. (Home office: Montreal, Canada; hereinafter, “SemaThera”) for anti-Semaphorin 3A antibody for the development of therapeutics and diagnostics in Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) and other diabetic complications including non-ocular diseases.

Under this Agreement, Chiome grants SemaThera license to exclusively evaluate humanized anti- Semaphorin 3A antibody (hereinafter, “Antibody”) and an option right to obtain a worldwide exclusive license to use, develop and commercialize the Chiome’s Antibody for both therapeutic and diagnostic uses. The Antibody was originally discovered by Chiome’s proprietary platform, ADLib® system, in collaboration with Professor Yoshio Goshima, Yokohama City University. Chiome and SemaThera agreed to enter into the Agreement with upfront and regulatory milestones, and sales-tied royalty. Details of the financial conditions are undisclosed.

The upfront payment is not material for the financial performance in the fiscal period ending December 31, 2018.

About Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic macular edema is a leading cause of vision impairment among people within the working- age population. It is caused by fluid accumulation in the macula, or central portion of the eye, that causes the macula to swell. Of an estimated 285 million people with diabetes mellitus worldwide, approximately one third have signs of DR and of these, a further one third of DR is vision-threatening DR, including diabetic macular edema (DME).

About Humanized anti-Semaphorin 3A antibody
The Antibody specifically binds Semaphorin 3A and inhibit Semaphorin 3A-mediated cellular response. Semaphorin 3A is an axon elongation guidance factor which regulates normal neuronal pattern development. It was reported that Semaphorin 3A increase vascular permeation that causes leakage and develops diabetic macular edema. Chiome has successfully generated chicken IgM anti- Semaphorin antibodies by the original ADLib® System, and then humanized it for therapeutic drug development.

About Chiome Bioscience, Inc.
Chiome Bioscience ( is a biotechnology company with its focus on discovery and development of antibody-based therapeutics in the disease area where high unmet medical needs exist, such like oncology, immunology, CNS, and inflammatory. It has several programs in discovery and preclinical stage in these fields. Chiome owns proprietary antibody generating technology named ADLib® System, together with currently available platforms. It was founded in 2005, and is listed on Tokyo stock exchange Mothers (code: 4583), and is located in Tokyo, Japan.

About SemaThera
SemaThera ( is a Canadian biotech company focusing on the development of novel anti-SEMA 3A therapies for the treatment of several retinopathies, including diabetic macular edema and wet age-related macular degeneration. SemaThera holds exclusive rights to various SEMA3A based technologies, where semaphorin 3A is involved in neo-angiogenesis, senescence and neuronal regeneration. Such technologies may also become future therapies in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

March 21, 2018

SemaThera Announces a $2MUS Financing and a Licensing Deal for China and Japan

MONTREAL – (BUSINESS WIRE) SemaThera Inc announces today the closing of a $2MUS co-investment from Senju Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and AmorChem L.P. for the development of its lead candidate, ST-102, in preparation for a clinical trial application in diabetic macular edema (DME).

As part of this financing, SemaThera also signed an exclusive option of license with Senju. Under the terms of the agreement, Senju acquired the option rights to exclusively develop and market SemaThera’s ST-102 in China and Japan as an intravitreal injection for DME. Senju would assume all clinical development costs and regulatory fees related to China and Japan. In exchange for these rights, Senju would pay SemaThera milestone payments with a total in eight-digit, and a two-digit percent royalty on sales. Senju would also have exclusive rights to other indications in China and Japan.

SemaThera proposes a novel therapeutic approach, which is a bispecific biological trap, inhibiting both semaphorin 3A (SEMA 3A) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). “The compiled preclinical package demonstrated that SEMA 3A inhibition is key to treat the pathology at an early stage, where expression of SEMA 3A is significantly high and VEGF is at normal levels”, states Mitsuyoshi Azuma, Ph.D., Senior Corporate Officer, Head of Laboratory of Ocular Science, Senju (Board Member). “In addition to its seed investment in SemaThera, Senju is a strategic ophthalmology-focused partner for SemaThera, in view of the clinical development of ST-102 in China and Japan. An increasing prevalence of diabetes is occurring in these two countries where DME cases are on the rise” says, Elizabeth Douville, Founder and Managing Partner, AmorChem (Board member).

SemaThera appointed John G. Clement, Ph.D. as Executive Vice-President, Business Development. John brings a solid expertise in business and drug development around underserved ocular and infectious diseases, with his past experience at iCo Therapeutics (2005-2011) and QLT Inc (2000-2005). He will also remain Venture Partner at AmorChem.

SemaThera ( is a Montreal-based biotech company focusing on the development of novel anti-SEMA 3A therapies for the treatment of several retinopathies, including diabetic macular edema and wet age-related macular degeneration. SemaThera holds exclusive rights to various SEMA 3A based technologies, where semaphorin 3A is involved in neo-angiogenesis, senescence and neuronal regeneration. Such technologies may also become future therapies in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Established in 1947 and headquartered in Osaka, Japan, Senju Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., is a leading company that develops, manufactures, and commercializes a variety of innovative products on a global basis, specializing in ophthalmic preparations.

AmorChem ( is an early-stage, venture capital fund located in Montreal focused on creating promising life science companies from technologies originating primarily from Quebec-based universities and research centres. Launched in 2011, the AmorChem fund model combines access to financial resources with a virtual incubator structure that enables the rapid development and commercialization of its technologies. The first fund (41.2M$) has built a portfolio of 24 technologies and successfully transacted two pharma exits as well as spun-out five companies. The attractiveness of this seed fund model and the role it plays in the life science ecosystem were highlighted in September 2017 with the launch of the AmorChem II fund of 44.2M$.

January 11, 2017

AmorChem spins out its SEMA 3A technology into SemaThera, with 1m$ seed investment

MONTREAL, Quebec – AmorChem is pleased to announce the creation of SemaThera, its second spin-off company focusing on a novel therapeutic approach to treat diabetic macular edema (DME) via the Semaphorin 3A (SEMA 3A) target. All rights to the SEMA 3A technology initially held by AmorChem have been transferred to SemaThera, with a first seed investment of 1M$CAD. This capital will allow SemaThera to select its lead candidate and start its early-stage development for the treatment of DME as a first indication.

The SEMA 3A technology has emerged from the laboratory of Dr Przemyslaw Sapieha, at the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR, CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal), who identified SEMA 3A as a novel target for ocular diseases. He discovered that SEMA 3A promotes vascular leakage and contributes to diabetesrelated macular edema. His work identified increased levels of SEMA 3A in the early stages of DME in a mouse model, while VEGF levels remained as low as levels observed in non-diabetic controls. Inhibiting SEMA 3A with a biological TRAP appears to be a relevant approach to preventing vascular leakage, inflammation, apoptosis and pathological cytoskeleton remodelling. “Diabetic macular edema is a common feature of retinopathies and affects a fourth of diabetic patients. It is the most prevalent ophthalmologic condition faced by diabetic patients and the leading cause of vision loss in adults of working age. Today, up to 40% of DME patients are poor-responders to anti-VEGF therapies and intravitreal injections of SEMA 3A inhibitor is clearly seen as a promising option” explains Dr Elizabeth Douville, Managing Partner at AmorChem.

“The spin off of SemaThera validates again the AmorChem model; identifying academic projects with high commercial potential, validating them within the academic setting and then spinning them off into companies” adds Dr. Inès Holzbaur, Managing Partner at AmorChem.

Upon creation of SemaThera, AmorChem appointed Maxime Ranger, Ph.D., MBA, as Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Przemyslaw Sapieha as Chief Scientific Officer of the company. As a serial entrepreneur, Dr. Ranger will ensure the transition of company activities, which will first select the lead biological TRAP and then conduct preclinical studies in view of clinical Phase I. Moreover, the next financing round remains a priority to support IND-enabling GLP studies and Phase I safety program. As CSO of the company, Dr Sapieha remains a key driver to build value around the SEMA 3A technology. His deep expertise in cellular biology and retinopathies will allow him to lead the development towards next-generation SEMA 3A inhibitors.

SemaThera signed an exclusive, worldwide, license with Univalor on a series of SEMA 3A TRAP inhibitors to be developed and used in various retinopathies and other non-ocular inflammatory diseases. «Univalor is pleased by the creation of SemaThera to pursue the development of this novel therapeutic approach.

This is an important step to ensure that millions of individuals affected by diabetic macular edema will eventually benefit from this academic research. » states Jacques Simoneau, CEO at Univalor. “Today, about 30 million North Americans have Type 2 Diabetes, associated to DME. The anti-SEMA 3A approach provides great hopes to poor-responder patients suffering from retinopathies” says Maxime Ranger, Acting CEO, SemaThera.

SemaThera ( is a Montreal-based biotech company focusing on the development of novel SEMA 3A TRAP inhibitors for the treatment of various retinopathies, including diabetic macular edema. SemaThera is currently testing different SEMA 3A biological TRAPs for intravitreal administration. Development of these TRAPS could result in either stand-alone therapy or as adjunct to current therapeutic strategies to more effectively counter diabetic retinopathies.

AmorChem L.P. ( is a venture capital fund located in Montreal focused on investing in promising life science projects originating from Quebec-based universities and research centres. The principal limited partners of this fund are Investissement-Québec, FIER Partenaires, Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Merck & Co. This fund is the latest addition to the GeneChem portfolio of funds, a fund manager in existence since 1997. AmorChem’s innovative business model involves financing research-stage projects to enable them to reach pre-clinical proof-of-concept (“POC”) in a semi-virtual mode within 18-24 months. The fund seeks to generate returns through a two-pronged exit strategy: sell projects having reached POC to large biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies; or bundle them into new spin-out companies. AmorChem using external resources will manage the projects. To that effect, AmorChem has established a strategic partnership with the Biotechnology Research Institute in order to access its R&D platforms. In addition, to enabling projects requiring small molecules as tools or drug leads, AmorChem has founded NuChem Therapeutics Inc., a medicinal chemistry contract-research company.

Univalor ( is a university technology transfer organization. Since 2001, it commercializes scientific findings and technological innovations emanating from some 2,600 researchers at the Université de Montréal and its affiliated health centres, Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal. It is supported by the Quebec Ministry of Economy, Science and Innovation (MESI). By creating links between the university and the business community, Univalor helps make businesses more competitive, generate revenue for research and, most importantly, enrich society.

The Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (CIUSSS-Est, includes the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR), the Santa Cabrini Hospital, the Polish Welfare Institute, the Montreal Mental Health University Institute, the CSSS de SaintLéonard and Saint-Michel, the CSSS de la Pointe-de- l’Île, and the Lucille-Teasdale CSSS. Its 43 points of service include nearly 15,000 employees and 580 physicians (full-time equivalent) serving a 500,000 people as population. The center offers a full range of front-line health and social services; general, specialized and cutting-edge hospital care; mental health care and long-term care in residential care. Affiliated with the Université de Montréal, CIUSSS-Est combines the three components of its mission: teaching, evaluation and research, with the training of physicians and health professionals. Its two major research centers are recognized nationally and internationally for their expertise in mental health, immunology, oncology, vision health, nephrology and cell therapy.

The HMR ( hosts a major research center. Three sectors stand out at national and international levels: immuno-oncology, vision health, nephrology and cellular therapy. Each year, more than 4,000 students, future physicians, nurses and health professionals are welcomed.

4 Westmount Square, Suite 160
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2S6

Business Development:
Human Resources:
General Inquiries:

© Copyright 2018-2021 SemaThera Inc.