Ardais Corp. completed a Series C round of financing, bringing in $13.4 million to commercialize its genomics repository.
The round gives Ardais, of Lexington, Mass., a raised-to-date total of more than $58 million.
"We'll use this primarily for commercialization," CEO and President Gregory Phelps said. "We've spent over $40 million to date developing a large library of [human disease data] and informatics."
For about three years, Ardais has been developing the Ardais BIGR Library to what it is today - a centralized clinical genomics repository that includes tissue samples, molecular derivatives and associated clinical information. It is accompanied by databases and bioinformatics tools. In 2002 alone, the number of Ardais customers mushroomed from four to 22. With the Series C, Ardais will fund "more traditional means of visibility," Phelps said, such as sales and marketing groups, hired to tell others what Ardais has to offer.
"There is a high-quality platform in place that we need to roll out," he told BioWorld Today.
The $13.4 million should last the company "well into next year," Phelps said. At that point, another round might be in order.
"Our goal is get the company to cash flow break-even," he said. "We'll probably need some additional cash to do that, so we're expecting to do another venture round. Or, if the financing landscape changes, then do an IPO."
Ardais has partner medical institutions that help it collect samples. Samples are bar-coded for tracking purposes, then coupled with associated clinical data in the BIGR Database.
"We acquire these materials and data and make them available to biotech and pharmaceutical companies for their research," he said. "That is our base business."
Although Phelps acknowledged there are other ways in which Ardais could capture value from its technology platform, including conducting drug discovery on its own, that possibility is somewhere off in the future. Right now, it is working on expanding its customer base. Over the past six months, the company has seen its customers grow by about 150 percent, up to 29 total. Although not authorized to disclose all of them, the list includes Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York; Abgenix Inc., of Fremont, Calif.; AstraZeneca plc, of London; Aventis SA, of Paris; and CuraGen Corp., of New Haven, Conn.
Phelps has been leading Ardais for about two and a half months, replacing Eric Gordon, who is pursuing other interests. Phelps previously was vice chairman of Dyax Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., and before that served as an executive vice president at Genzyme Corp., also of Cambridge, overseeing the therapeutics division and, separately, running the research and development division.
"I was approached with the Ardais premise, which is that you can improve the probability of making good R&D decisions early by bringing actual human disease into the process," he said. "My initial reaction was, This sounds like a company that is at the right place at the right time.'"
Phelps sees Ardais with its clinical genomics base as a company in a unique field.
"The message we want to get across is that we approach clinical genomics in a standardized way, from our viewpoint, and put a real premium on quality," he said, with a focus on bioethics, the legalities of patient samples and confidentially. "We never interfere with patient care."
The financing was co-led by The Kaufmann Fund, of New York; Advanced Technology Ventures, of Boston; Advent Health Care and Life Sciences, of Boston; EGS Healthcare Capital Partners, of New York; Bessemer Venture Partners, of Boston; Pequot Private Equity Fund, of New York; BioVentures Investors, of Boston; and Silicon Valley Bancshares, of Boston.