A Medical Device Daily
New applications for advanced research in genomic technology will be supported by recent fund-raising reported on Monday by Perlegen Sciences (Mountain View, California) and Sciona (Boulder, Colorado).
Perlegen reported the closing of a $74 million private placement of its Series D preferred stock with new and existing investors.
Perlegen analyzes unique genetic variations in DNA samples obtained from clinical trial participants. This information is used to explain and predict the efficacy and adverse effect profiles of prescription drugs. The company says it also focuses on discovering genetic variants associated with disease for new therapeutics and diagnostics.
Robert Middlebrook, chief corporate development officer of Perlegen, said the new financing "will enable us to continue in-licensing and developing a valuable pipeline of late-stage drugs, exploiting Perlegen's ability to target the right drugs to the right patients. The financing was led by CSK Venture Capital, with new investors including Brookside Capital, an affiliate of Bain Capital, Mizuho Securities, Glynn Capital Management, Cape Securities and several other U.S. and European institutional investors. Previous investors also participating in the financing included Dr. Alex Zaffaroni, Maverick Capital, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie, Zesiger Capital, Sano Ventures, BSI SA, MPM BioEquities, SB Life Sciences, Unilever Ventures, Biofrontier Partners, Private Life Biomed, CMEA Ventures and Affymetrix.
"Perlegen's ability to interrogate whole genomes and to do so with incredibly high speed and accuracy has established the company as a valued partner for many of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies," said Makoto Kaneshiro, managing director of the board of CSK Venture Capital and the newest member of Perlegen's board of directors.
Sciona, a private biotech firm developing technology for "consumer genomics," reported completed a second closing of its third round of financing at $8.2 million.
Sciona develops DNA screens for common gene variants that affect an individual's response to food, medications and the environment. The company said these genetic screens "serve as the basis for providing personalized, science-based health and lifestyle advice to consumers and can help companies customize personal care and nutrition products."
Jim Bruce, company president and CEO, said the financing "validates our position as a leader in this new and growing area of nutrition genetics." He said the funding also will support the move of the company's headquarters from the UK to Colorado, fund R&D for outcome validation studies "and proceed with market testing and market rollout."
Burrill and Company led the round, which also included investors Prelude Trust, BASF Venture Capital and Bioventures.
Gregg Wurster, senior associate, Burrill and Company, said that Sciona's management team "has done an excellent job of continuing to build the business amidst relocation to Boulder and the completion of fund raising. We are pleased that Bioventures joined our syndicate and look forward to working with Sciona's management team to build the world's leading consumer genomics company."
Sciona said it has developed an understanding of the relationship between an individual's genetic variation to lifestyle factors and how an individual's lifestyle can be altered by appropriate intervention strategies, such as response to diet, exercise, and other environmental factors. The company's The Cell genetic screen provides nutritional guidelines, based on individual genetic profiles, to support better health decision-making, it said. The Cell kit includes genetic information on insulin sensitivity, B-vitamin metabolism, detoxification, heart and bone health, antioxidant metabolism and inflammation.
In other financing activity:
• Neurologix (Fort Lee, New Jersey), which through its subsidiary, Neurologix Research, is engaged in treatments for disorders of the brain and central nervous system, primarily utilizing gene therapies, reported completing an additional private placement of about 792,000 shares of newly issued common stock at $1.30 a share, for gross proceeds of $1.03 million. The purchasers also received five-year warrants to purchase about 198,000 shares of common stock, at $1.625 a share. The warrants are callable beginning in August 2007 if the share price exceeds $3.25 for a 10 trading-day period.
Michael Sorrell, MD, CEO of Neurologix, said that with an early February financing transaction, the total round comes to about $2.5 million.
The company said that proceeds from the round will be used for general corporate purposes and research and development.
Neurologix's development efforts are focused on gene therapy for Parkinson's disease and epilepsy, and it is testing its core technology, dubbed NLX.
• MedPanel (Cambridge, Massachusetts) reported closing a Series C round of funding, the amount undisclosed. The company said the funds will be used to support the company's syndicated product, named Profiles, and its recent launch into the financial industry.
The Profiles series examines market opportunities, product performance and investigational agents currently in clinical trials. These studies "are designed to provide in-depth analysis for organizations and companies considering the development, acquisition, or launch of a therapeutic agent for commercialization," according to MedPanel. The company launched the Profiles series last year in oncology, covering key patient populations in four of the most prevalent solid tumors.
"It is our intention to use this additional capital to become the leading source of directional medical market intelligence by delivering superior access to – and data from – key constituents of the medical community," said Will Febbo, CEO.
MedPanel said it plans to bolster the Profiles product with "the addition of European research and data" and introduce a series focusing on diseases of the central nervous system. Profiles clients receive detailed reports of research findings and an electronic data simulator that enables scenario analysis based on varying levels of therapeutic performance.
Matt Fearer, senior vice president, content development at MedPanel and creator of the Profiles series, said that a data-driven simulator enables users "to anticipate or adapt to changes that may occur in their clinical development plans, [thus extending] the shelf-life and utility of our research."