By Karen Young

Protedyne closed a $12 million private round of financing to go toward developing additional products to serve scientists conducting molecular biology research.

Protedyne President Stan Klein said the funding should take the company ¿well into 2003.¿

¿If things go really well, we may not need funding [at that time],¿ Klein said, noting that company officials may consider going public in 2004.

Leading the $12 million financing, which brings Protedyne¿s total to about $13 million raised to date, was the Sprout Group, a Menlo, Calif.-based venture capital affiliate of Credit Suisse First Boston. Other investors include Meridian Venture Partners, Long River Ventures and Boston Community Venture Funds.

¿The present product line is only the beginning of our product line,¿ Klein said. ¿Right now we only address clearly several markets, which are gene analysis, SNPs and gene expression.¿ However, he said the company intends to add equipment solutions for proteomics, cell-based assays and pharmacogenetics.

Protedyne¿s business is based on the BioCube system of products designed to optimize the discovery process in labs. It is an ultra-high-throughput lab automation platform that manipulates liquids using a centrifuge.

First, any liquid is poured into the multifunctional liquid handler, or Molecular BioCube, that processes the samples and automatically sends them to the PCR BioCube, which ultimately loads up to 32 PCR machines, Klein said. The BioCube system also has a Gel BioCube component that offers fully automated gel electrophoresis, including gel manufacture, gel run and gel analysis.

¿This requires only one technician,¿ Klein said, noting that it eliminates greatly the possibility of human error. ¿Thousands of manipulations are done without human intervention.¿

Because the BioCube system uses barcode technology to collect and track data, the machines would recognize if any input was incorrect during the process, Klein said.

¿Our proprietary software is very, very important in that each machine talks to the other,¿ Klein said.

The BioCube system runs on the company¿s CILA (Computer Integrated Laboratory Automation) architecture, which allows automation of a process from beginning to end and enables customers to integrate Protedyne¿s platforms into their research and development infrastructure, the company said.

In addition to equipment, Protedyne has scientists and automation experts in its BioResearch Contract Services who can help customers develop an automation protocol. In its 22,000-square-foot facility in Windsor, Conn., 2,000 square feet is devoted to labs. Customers have two choices: they can either buy the BioCube modules, or contract with Protedyne to run the services on the BioCube systems in BioCube¿s own labs.

For example, Klein said the BioCube system can be integrated with any lab¿s bioinformatics system.

Among customers that have purchased systems are Celera Genomics, of Rockville, Md.; Invitrogen Corp., of San Diego; and PE Applied Biosystems, of Foster City, Calif.