CODA Genomics Inc. raised $7 million in a Series C financing to further develop its protein-production technologies.
The Laguna Hills, Calif., company was spun out of the University of California at Irvine in 2005 to develop Translation Engineering technology for expressing proteins. It had raised about $2.4 million in two earlier financings.
"The last nine months have seen high growth for us as our strategic pharmaceutical partners experience success from the utilization of Translation Engineering," CODA CEO Robert Molinari said in a news release. "This additional financing will fuel our growth in several opportunistic areas, including expansion of our Translation Engineering technology to more organisms and partners; funding of a biofuel enzyme optimization initiative in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine; and further development of a novel therapeutic lead candidate demonstration project."
The Translation Engineering technology is built around the ability to manipulate ribosomal pause signals to control the speed of protein translation, a key factor in determining protein yield and functionality, CODA said. The platform integrates technologies and processes to optimize protein production at a ribosomal or molecular "protein factory" level to produce pharmaceutical proteins. A key, it said, is its understanding of the relationship between protein translation and codon pair signaling.
The Series C financing round was led by OVP Venture Partners, with participation from current investors including Monitor Ventures, Tech Coast Angels and Life Science Angels.
In addition to providing rational solutions for developing functional proteins, CODA produces directed libraries for customers seeking amino acid changes or deletions on their proteins or sets of proteins. Among uses for the new money is advancing a therapeutic development candidate.
Among CODA's collaborators are Integrated Genomics, of Chicago, and Viventia Biotech Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario. It has received grant funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease for expansion of its synthetic gene assembly and protein expression technology.
"The CODA Translation Engineering technology could well become a necessary tool for all researchers in the field of protein-related drug development," said Chad Waite, general partner at OVP and a CODA board member. "One of the major problems in moving many protein-related drugs from research to commercialization has been that, when the gene expression system is moved from a research scale to commercial scale, the host cells don't properly express active protein, rendering it useless as a therapeutic. CODA's technology provides a rational approach toward solving these problems, and can repair and enhance the expression of active therapeutic protein."
In other financing news:
• Antares Pharma Inc., of Ewing, N.J., closed its previously announced private placement of common stock and warrants with accredited investors. It raised $16 million, which included the initial $15 million in commitments plus an additional $1 million. Antares, which has three drug-delivery platforms, sold 10 million common shares at $1.60 per share, and warrants to purchase up to 3.5 million shares at $2 per share. Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. was lead placement agent for the deal, with Punk, Ziegel & Co. and BMO Capital Markets Corp. co-placement agents. Antares' stock (AMEX:AIS) gained 2 cents Wednesday to close at $1.71.
• Isolagen Inc., of Exton, Pa., filed registration statements with the SEC relating to a proposed exchange offer involving holders of its currently outstanding 3.5 percent subordinated convertible notes due 2024, and a proposed offer to the public of an additional $30 million of new senior convertible notes due 2024. In the exchange offer, Isolagen intends to offer up to $90 million of the new notes for up to all of the $90 million in notes currently outstanding. It also intends to offer to the public $30 million more in the new notes. Thomas Weisel Partners LLC is managing the exchange offer and is placement agent for the new offering.
• Acura Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Palatine, Ill., secured $600,000 under a term-loan agreement with Essex Woodlands Health Ventures V LP, Care Capital Investments II LP, Care Capital Offshore Investments II LP, Galen Partners III LP, Galen Partners International III LP and Galen Employee Fund III LP. The bridge loan bears an annual interest rate of 10 percent and matures Sept. 30. Lenders have certain rights to convert the now-$10.5 million in bridge loans into company stock. The company is developing Aversion (abuse-deterrent) technology.