A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Adnavance (Vancouver, British Columbia), a developer of direct detection molecular diagnostic tests, said it will receive an additional C$1.8 million as part of its Series B financing, because it has met a milestone in progressing its metalized DNA (M-DNA) technology platform toward a new methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) diagnostic test.

The company reported completing its Series B financing in February, raising C$3.7 million ($3.78 million). Investors include GrowthWorks Working Opportunity Fund, Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund and Business Development Bank of Canada.

Adnavance said it would use the additional funding to further develop the platform and move toward the launch of its first test for MRSA, which may be as early as 2010. The milestone required discrimination of MRSA in a background of non-MRSA competing targets. Additionally, the company said it completed development of a functioning pre-prototype instrument for its M-DNA platform.

"The potential for this technology to open molecular diagnostic testing to laboratories not licensed for PCR amplification is very exciting," said Randy White, CEO of Adnavance Technologies. "It's a large market and the progress our team has made in developing the platform is significant. We look forward to reporting sensitivity and specificity data over the coming months as we move closer to commercialization."

Adnavance's ultra-sensitive M-DNA direct detection technology uses metal ions to produce a highly conductive form of DNA that allows discrimination of "perfect match" hybridized DNA from non-matching DNA, and may eliminate the need for target amplification for a large number of molecular diagnostic tests, according to the company.

Only about 10% of all hospital laboratories and only 35% of all independent laboratories in the U.S. are licensed for high-complexity testing and can use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to perform molecular diagnostic testing, the company said.

Adnavance says its technology has the potential to de-centralize molecular testing and open the market to roughly 30,000 new customers who cannot currently perform these medical tests.

In other financing activity:

• Vantage Oncology (Manhattan Beach, California) reported that it has closed on a $100 million term loan facility, with Ares Capital acting as the lead arranger. The facility is structured as a delayed-draw term loan to support future acquisitions.

Vantage acquires, joint ventures, develops and operates radiation oncology centers. The company's 31 centers currently provide more than 200,000 patient treatments annually, including conventional, IMRT, IGRT, SRS and brachytherapy treatments.

The company also provides medical physics services to its own centers as well as independent hospital and physician clients through its subsidiary, Vantage Oncology Physics, and provides billing services through its Vantage Medical Management Services unit.

Vantage's equity investors include New Enterprise Associates, CCP Equity Partners, Versant Ventures, Salix Ventures and Camden Partners.

• Bio-Reference Laboratories (BRL; Elmwood Park, New Jersey) reported that its board has approved a stock repurchase program authorizing the repurchase of up to 1 million shares of its common stock on the over-the-counter market at prevailing market prices through Oct. 31, 2010. The board said it believes that BRL's common stock is currently undervalued and that a repurchase program of this nature constitutes an appropriate investment that will benefit BRL's stockholders.

BRL is the third-largest full-service clinical laboratory in the U.S. and the largest independent laboratory in the Northeastern market, primarily a clinical testing lab servicing physician offices with concentrations in the focused markets of esoteric testing, molecular diagnostic, anatomical pathology and correctional healthcare.

• Commonwealth Biotechnologies (CBI; Richmond, Virginia) said it has sold 463,426 shares of its common stock subject to a $1 million put right to Venturepharm Laboratories (VPL; Beijing, China) for $2.15 a share, a 56% premium to the June 30 share price of $1.38.

CBI received $500,000 in cash and 2,229,664 of VPL's ordinary shares, which equals $500,000 of equity value, based on VPL's price of HKD 1.7469 (at exchange rate of $1/HKD 7.79) per ordinary share. The shares are listed for trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and have full voting rights.

"We have elected to exercise our put option with VPL now because the exercise price of $2.15 represents a significant premium to the current [CBI] share price. The capital raised through the put right will be used primarily to further expand and promote our new Chinese joint venture business, Venturepharm Asia," said Dr. Paul D'Sylva, CEO of CBI.

Through Venturepharm Asia, CBI recently procured two pre-clinical chemistry facilities in China to house and expand the business operations of Exelgen and Mimotopes, its small molecule and peptide subsidiaries. The company has recruited scientific staff and expects to commence operations in the China facilities in 3Q08.

"We believe the cost and capacity advantages of Venturepharm Asia provide significant growth potential for CBI," D'Sylva said. "The additional funds raised through exercising our put right will contribute to bringing our new facilities on-line and to launching a marketing campaign to promote our expanded service offerings to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries."