By Brady Huggett

Aptus Genomics Inc. said it closed its Series A round of financing, bringing in $6.2 million, and is preparing to move to its new facility as the company approaches yearling status.

The round, completed in January and disclosed this week, was led by Emerging Technology Partners LLC, of Rockville, Md., and participated in by The Grosvenor Funds LLC, of Washington, and VitalBio LLC, of Boca Raton, Fla.

The funds, said Aptus¿ CEO and president Kevin Chance, will be used for growth.

¿Primarily, we¿ll expand our [research and development] team and invest in the capital and consumables needed to supply that team,¿ he said. ¿Also, we¿ll fund the move to our new facility.¿ Beyond that, he added, the money would be used for general corporate purposes.

Aptus has 21 employees now and is looking to add six more, all in research and development, in the next three to four months, Chance said.

Including the seed round of $1.5 million that gave Aptus its start, the company has raised $7.7 million. There is more planned, Chance said.

¿The [$6.2 million] could last well over a year,¿ he told BioWorld Today. ¿But we¿ll probably look to start a new round this summer.¿

Chance founded Rockville, Md.-based Aptus in June 2000, and while he is listed as the sole founder, he acknowledged what part Emerging Technology Partners has played.

¿I was the only founder, but with the understanding that Emerging Technology would give seed capital,¿ he said.

Besides seed capital and leading Aptus¿ Series A round, the idea for the company¿s technology came from Wei-Wu He, one of the general partners at Emerging Technology. In fact, Chance said, all three investors provide Aptus with needed experience in the industry. Aptus has brought one of the partners from The Grosvenor Funds onto its board.

Aptus is developing a technology platform to discover, qualify and use families of human genes for pharmaceutical research. Completing the technology¿s development is the first step, Chance said.

¿The core capability that we have is the ability to quickly identify, isolate and characterize full-length human genes,¿ he said. ¿Our business today is building a complete collection of subfamilies of human genes, focusing on cell surface receptors.¿

What sets Aptus apart is its speed, Chance said.

¿What makes us different is being very high throughput and automated for cloning sequence verification,¿ he said. ¿We have a cross-functional team. We have a combination of molecular biology and information technology that lets us do things quickly and with a substantial degree of integration of information systems.¿

Aptus is in discussions with ¿a number of parties¿ concerning collaborations, Chance said, and news of confirmed deals should be forthcoming.

The company will take up residence in its new location in Gaithersburg, Md., shortly, Chance said.

¿Our full operations will be up and running in June,¿ he said. ¿It¿s 11,500 square feet and has a fully functional molecular and cell biology lab, and housing for all of us.¿ The new facility is roughly four times larger than Aptus¿ current place in the Maryland Technology Development Center.

With the new location, new employees on the way, and the money to fund it, Aptus can push ahead, Chance said.

¿What this means is we can continue the growth path we are on, which is pretty rapid as far as staff and R&D accomplishments.¿

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