By Matthew Willett

Molecular Reflections ¿ micro-machine screeners of potential therapeutics ¿ is raising $14.2 million, $7.2 million up front and an additional $7 million in potential milestone payments, in its Series B financing.

The second round of funding for the San Diego company was led by Forward Ventures, of San Diego. Oxford Bioscience Partners, of Boston, and ProQuest Investments, of Princeton, N.J., also participated. The round also included previous investors Sorrento Ventures, of San Diego, and Oxcal Ventures, of Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Molecular Reflections¿ president and CEO, Michael Nerenberg, said the financing was welcome in a ¿conservative¿ capital market.

¿I think we have a good board, and we had a technology for which I think there is a strong need,¿ Nerenberg told BioWorld Today. ¿We¿re a small company, but we have a technical expertise in relevant areas, and I think the venture capital firms involved are pretty familiar with the market and the needs.¿

The company¿s technology centers on MEMS, or microelectro mechanical systems, technology, which has been used in the auto industry and to an extent in biotechnology, most notably in microfluidics chips.

¿These technologies are building little machines on chips and integrating them with electrical readouts,¿ he said. ¿This technology has been around for a while, but it has had limited application in biotechnology. Our goal is to exploit this to develop a sensor that can measure biochemical bindings directly without fluorescent labels.¿

Nerenberg said the initial $7.2 million funding will last the company, which was founded in April 2000, about two years. He added that the further, $7 million milestone-contingent funding, which is tied to the development of the company¿s MEMS screening platform, would last another two years.

¿We hope at the end of this funding to have beta instruments out in pharmaceutical companies and undergoing serious evaluation and use by those companies, and beyond that we¿ll need another round to actually commercialize it,¿ he said.

Privately held Molecular Reflections will concentrate on a service provision business model in the commercialization of its MEMS technology platform, which Nerenberg said could have wider application than primary screening.

¿The first area we¿re interested in is just drug target screening, where there¿s a real need for massive throughput, and these little devices have the capability to provide massive throughput,¿ he said. ¿The first application is in primary screening, but it can also be used in validating, and it has other uses in proteomics. Really, it can be used in any interaction between two molecules.¿

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