BORNHEIM, Germany ¿ Amaxa GmbH raised EUR13M (US$11.2 million) in its second financing round. The company will use the cash injection to help market its first product, a nonviral gene-transfer platform, and to further develop its product pipeline.

Cologne, Germany-based Amaxa¿s transfection platform called Nucleofector is based on electroporation of cells. The platform consists of an electric device and special buffer solutions. A transfection kit including the electric device and solution has been available since last month.

¿The Nucleofector enables researchers to transfer a piece of DNA of choice directly into certain primary cells, such as melanocytes and keratinocytes from skin, neurons and human microvascular endothelial lung cells,¿ Amaxa CEO Rainer Christine told BioWorld International. For each cell type Amaxa has developed electric parameters and a solution.

Transfection takes two seconds, Christine said, adding that a few hours thereafter expression of the new gene is visible.

¿The gene is transfected immediately into the cell¿s nucleus,¿ he said, adding that it is a transient transfection ¿ the transferred DNA does not integrate into the cell¿s own genome.

¿The new gene remains in the nucleus and is expressed as long as the cell does not divide rapidly. Transient transfection currently covers 75 percent of the gene transfer market,¿ Christine said.

The Nucleofector platform currently is available for 10 different cell types. The same hardware is used for each. Aiming at 90 percent market coverage, the company wants to expand its portfolio to 20 types of primary cells. The platform currently is designed for research use only.

Amaxa also intends to develop ex vivo therapeutic applications, Christine said. Other projects in the pipeline are aiming at a platform for stable integration of transfected genes into a cell¿s genome and at in vivo transfection.

Amaxa was founded in 1998 by Gregor Siebenkotten and Christine, both who previously worked at Cologne University¿s genetics institute. ¿In the lab at that time we did not have any transfection tool meeting our special requirements. Thus, we invented the technology giving rise to what today is the Nucleofector,¿ Christine said.

In October 1998 Amaxa completed its first financing round, raising EUR2.3 million. The company today has 50 employees.

The second financing round was led by 3i Group Investments LP, of London. Other investors were NRW Fonds GmbH, of D|sseldorf; Earlybird Venture Capital, of Hamburg; Technomedia, of Cologne; and Bonn-based tbg.

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