By Brady Huggett

Neurogenetics Inc. raised $9 million in its Series B financing and will use the funds to beef up its human resources.

¿I¿m talking about, primarily, people,¿ said Steve Wagner, chief scientific officer at Neurogenetics. ¿People are the real expense here. We have the facility; we are just getting more people. We wanted to wait until we had some projects for these people to take off on.¿

Neurogenetics, of San Diego, has raised about $17 million in its first two rounds of financing. Wagner said it burned through the first round¿s take in about a year, and the current funding should last on the order of 12 to 18 months. That time frame is flexible, he said, and will depend on potential corporate deal signings.

When the Series B funds start to dwindle and Neurogenetics turns back to the financing window, most likely it will again be a private financing, Wagner said.

¿That will depend on two things: one, corporate deals, and two, the [financial] environment,¿ Wagner said. ¿Realistically, we¿ll probably do another private round in 12 to 18 months.¿

Repeat investors in the round were Advent International Corp., of Boston; Alta Partners, of San Francisco; and GIMV, of Antwerp, Belgium. New investors were Novartis Venture Fund, of Basel, Switzerland, and S.R. One, of West Conshohocken, Pa.

Neurogenetics was founded in April 2000 by Wagner, Rudy Tanzi and William Comer, the company¿s chairman. It is focused on developing small-molecule therapies for Alzheimer¿s disease, although Wagner said the company plans on branching out into Lou Gehrig¿s disease and stroke. It has identified compounds, but has not yet moved any into trials, although that move is expected to happen shortly.

¿We want to get into animal models next year,¿ Wagner said. ¿We want to go from lead to hits very quickly. We want to rapidly progress our compounds, which came out of our first series of proprietary assays.¿

Partially, the $9 million will be used to fund further screening.

¿We¿ll be reinforcing our screening capabilities,¿ Wagner said. ¿We have two major targets that we are screening now. We¿ll be purchasing and building our library, and we want to buy significant compounds from sources. We want to be getting compounds synthesized, getting them ordered, and getting them screened.¿

But mostly, the proceeds will be used to hire good minds.

¿We have 29 [employees] now,¿ he said. ¿We are going to grow to, probably, upwards of 35 or 36 people by the end of the year. By next year at this time, we¿ll be around 45.¿

Wagner added, ¿Clearly, closing the round shows that basically we have continued confidence from our initial investors as well as confidence from new corporate venture capital investors.¿

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