A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

New Leaf Venture Partners (NLV Partners; New York/Menlo Park California) reported that the company has closed a $310 million venture capital fund dedicated to healthcare technologies.

The company will invest primarily in firms focused on clinical-stage biopharmaceutical products, early stage medical devices and molecular diagnostics.

New Leaf Venture Partners initiated operations last month under the former managers of the Sprout Group’s Healthcare Technology venture team.

Members includes managing directors Philippe Chambon, MD, PhD; Andrew Firlik, MD; Ron Hunt; and James Niedel, MD, PhD, in the company’s New York office; managing directors Jeani Delagardelle, Kathy LaPorte and Vijay Lathi in the Menlo Park office; and Vice President Hao Zhou in Menlo Park.

In addition to the new fund, the NLV Partners team will continue to manage the existing $800 million healthcare technology portfolio of the Sprout Group.

In a statement, Chambon and LaPorte said, “We are very excited by the closing of our first fund and are grateful for the strong support from an outstanding group of limited partners.”

They added: “With the formation of NLV Partners, we have now created one of the few venture firms 100% dedicated to the life sciences, which will allow us to play a significant role in supporting innovative companies in this sector.”

Chambon and LaPorte said the NLV Partners team plans to continue “the successful healthcare technology investment strategy that we followed at Sprout Group and look forward to an active investment program in the months to come.”

Large Scale Biology (LSB; Vacaville, California) entered into a three-year private equity agreement with a Southridge Capital Management-advised fund, Brittany Capital Management, which permits the company to deliver from time to time puts requiring Brittany Capital to purchase up to $15 million of LSB common stock.

Proceeds of the stock sales are expected to be used for general working capital purposes and the retirement of certain bridge debt.

With certain restrictions, LSB will have a right to periodically put common shares to Brittany Capital for which it will pay the company cash at a 7% discount to the then market price calculated over a 10-trading day period.

The agreement commits LSB to put shares having a minimum aggregate purchase price of $2 million over the three-year term and limits Brittany’s purchase obligation to a maximum of $15 million during that period.

The maximum aggregate number of common shares issuable to Brittany Capital will not exceed about 6.43 million unless the company obtains stockholder approval.

Separately, LSB said it received an aggregate of $1 million on Aug. 5 in term-loan financing in exchange for secured promissory notes issued to Kevin Ryan, the company’s president and CEO and a member of the board of directors, and Robert Erwin, board chairman, in exchange for loans in the amounts of $750,000 and $250,000, respectively, and accompanying warrants. Proceeds will be used for near-term working capital needs.

In connection with the promissory notes, the company issued common stock purchase warrants that may be exercised commencing on Feb. 5, 2006, and which expire on Feb. 5, 2011. Ryan and Erwin may purchase up to about 463,000 and 154,000 shares, respectively, of the company’s common stock at the exercise price of 81 cents per share, the closing bid price of the company’s common stock on Aug. 4.

LSB uses its gene expression, molecular engineering and bioprocessing technologies to develop therapeutic and industrial proteins, vaccines and diagnostic products for characterization and treatment of disease.

In other financing news, Infrared Sciences (Hauppauge, New York) reported completing a $2.1 million Series B preferred stock financing, saying it will give it the capital necessary to continue introducing Sentinel BreastScan to a broader market of doctors and patients. ISC completed a $1 million Series A stock financing in October 2004.

Sentinel BreastScan – utilizing infrared imaging and software employing artificial intelligence – is designed as an adjunctive test with mammography, ultrasound or clinical examination for the early detection of breast cancer. It is an FDA-approved, non-invasive touchless procedure offered to women of any age, with results immediately available in the form of an objective re-port.

“Sentinel BreastScan’s ease of use and proprietary software are a quantum leap from any previous infrared imaging system,” said President Tom Di-Cicco. “It is the only system in the world that provides any doctor ready access to this early breast cancer detection data.”

He added: “As an adjunctive procedure, Sentinel BreastScan does not replace mammography or ultrasound, nor is it intended to stand alone as a single test that can determine overall breast health. Sentinel BreastScan can greatly improve the efficacy of those technologies by drawing attention to areas standard mammograms might miss – such as areas within dense breast tissue - or by localizing areas to be further investigated using ultrasound or MR technology.”

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