GlycoFi Inc. raised $10 million in a Series C financing meant to fund expansion of the company's second-generation biopharmaceuticals program and to hire necessary business and preclinical development staff.
Since its inception in mid-2000, GlycoFi has raised a total of $17.6 million, including $600,000 in a Series A and $7 million in a Series B. Charles Hutchinson, company co-founder and CEO, would not discuss specific details of the firm's finances. GlycoFi, of Lebanon, N.H., is a privately held firm that employs 37 people.
GlycoFi's science is based on humanized yeast technology developed by GlycoFi co-founder Tillman Gerngross, the company's chief scientific officer. That technology, which is being outlicensed, gives researchers the tools to produce human therapeutics in yeast as opposed to current approaches in mammalian cell lines.
"We have a whole new opportunity for people who are looking for alternatives to producing therapeutic proteins," Hutchinson told BioWorld Today. "It's cheaper, faster and better than the current approaches. But more to the point, the technology gives you the capability of making a different therapeutic, which may have enhanced therapeutic value."
Already, the 3-year-old company has research programs with the likes of Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., (now Biogen IDEC) and Baxter Healthcare, of Deerfield, Ill. In both cases the companies are applying GlycoFi's technology to their own specific targets.
Hutchinson said GlycoFi currently is in talks with about a dozen or so companies referencing outlicensing deals.
Beyond finding customers, GlycoFi eventually will develop its own therapeutics, although company officials would not discuss the types of diseases it expects to research.
GlycoFi's combinatorial genetic library enables its scientists to genetically engineer yeast cell lines to secrete therapeutic glycoproteins with human-like carbohydrate structures. Using the library, the company said it has developed many fungal cell lines that allow for the production of specific glycoproteins.
The engineered fungal strains producing the glycoproteins display robust fermentation behavior and good protein-production characteristics. The result is a protein-expression system that is compatible with standard industry fermentation methods that eliminates the contamination risks associated with mammalian cells, the company said.
Hutchinson said the technology can be applied to any disease.
Hutchinson said he's happy with GlycoFi's ability to raise money. "It's not easy to do now," he said. "We are extremely pleased that the investors we have are a very strong syndicate. They have been supportive and they understand clearly what we are trying to do. We think they will be great investors to help us move forward."
Investors included Borealis Ventures, of Hanover, N.H.; Village Ventures, of Williamstown, Ma.; and Polaris Ventures, Schroder Ventures Life Sciences and Boston Millennia Partners, all of Boston.
As part of the financing, Robert Mashal, partner at Boston Millennia, will join the GlycoFi board.