West Coast Editor
Privately held genomics tools company Genospectra Inc. gained $16.4 million in a Series C financing to advance its Parallel Quantitative Biology initiative.
"The cash [on hand] will certainly suffice for well over two years," said Frank Witney, president and CEO of Fremont, Calif.-based Genospectra, adding that the company is targeting profitability in 2006.
Genospectra's technology - designed to be of particular benefit with RNA interference, predictive toxicology and secondary screening - includes cell-based assays for gene-expression profiling and live-cell biosensors for analysis of protein or nucleic acid function in a natural cellular context.
The firm's first gene-expression product, the QuantiGene Reagent System, is based on branched DNA (bDNA), which is a method of RNA quantification that is not reliant on PCR or RNA "prep." Deploying a proprietary signal-amplification method, QuantiGene offers what the company calls "robust and precise" RNA quantification directly from cell lysate or tissue homogenate.
Under way is QuantiGene Plex, a slightly different platform based on the same core technology that can measure the activity of up to 30 genes from a single sample, simultaneously. Genospectra will continue to sell the original QuantiGene, Witney said.
A second core technology, live-cell biosensors or PAC Probes, consists of high-throughput tools that measure enzyme activity, protein levels or control gene silencing in live cells. Several classes of PAC probes are in the works.
Witney said the Series C proved "an interesting journey" in tight times for fund raising. "We have revenues that are ramping pretty rapidly," he told BioWorld Today. "People saw [the revenues] and the pipeline, and that's why the financing got done."
Founded in late 2000, the company has 32 employees and probably will grow to about 40 as a result of the new cash, Witney said.
"We have long-term programs but we're trying to balance it so we can bring in revenues as soon as possible," he said. "That's been our story over the last year and a half."
Battelle Ventures, of Princeton, N.J., led the round, which included additional new investors Agilent Ventures, of Palo Alto, Calif.; 5AM Ventures, of Menlo Park, Calif.; Aravis Ventures, of San Francisco; Allen & Co., of New York; and other private investors.
Existing investors also took part, including well known biotechnology figure Alex Zaffaroni; Frazier Healthcare Ventures, of Seattle; HBM Bioventures, of Zurich, Switzerland; Novartis BioVentures Ltd. (a San Diego-based affiliate of Novartis International AG, of Basel, Switzerland); Bio One Capital (the dedicated biomedical investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board); Bay City Capital, of San Francisco; and Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif.