Target Discovery Inc. recently raised in excess of $4.6 million in Series A financing to continue development of its proteomics platform technologies.

The technologies are focused on the comparison and identification of differences in the protein makeup of healthy and diseased tissues.

“The space we’re in is expressional proteomics,” CEO Jeff Peterson said.

The company, of Palo Alto, Calif., was formed in April 1999 based on technology discovered by Luke Schneider, who is now chief scientific officer. It has 10 employees.

Essentially, expressional proteomics is taking a diseased tissue and a healthy tissue, and measuring how much there is of each protein, i.e., which are underexpressed and which are overexperessed, Peterson said. Those differences become the target for new drug development.

Specifically, Target Discovery is focused on its multidimensional capillary electrophoresis and inverted mass ladder sequencing technologies, which Peterson said allows for 100-fold improvements in the sensitivity for detecting proteins, compared to current methods of 2-D gels and mass ladder sequencing. The resolution capacity of this technology is currently fivefold, Peterson said.

“It allows us to break through these current quality frustrations,” he said.

The money will take the company “well into this year,” Peterson said, but he noted that Target Discovery already is actively seeking institutional funding, which would allow for staffing increases of up to 20 to 25 employees. He said the institutional funding could come as early as the second quarter.

Target Discovery’s business model is based on the goal of commercializing the technology by partnering with pharmaceutical or diagnostic companies to identify more complete and more precise target sets associated with a particular disease, Peterson said. Ideally, he said, the partnerships would begin during the lead optimization phase, where Target Discovery’s technology provides a toxicological and efficacy testing platform.

The company is still pre-commercial and an estimated six to 12 months away from closing its first commercial relationship, Peterson said. It now is working on research in the areas of E. coli and human plasma.

Peterson brought experience from his senior management roles with Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., and General Electric.

Target Discovery is supported by a scientific advisory board that includes leaders in mass spectrometry, protein chemistry and capillary electrophoresis from Mayo Clinic, City of Hope, Stanford University and San Jose State University.