LumiCyte Inc. completed a $20 million Series B financing last week and will use the funds to develop its technology and finance worldwide expansion.
The round was led by Tullis-Dickerson & Co., of Greenwich, Conn., and included OrbiMed Advisors LLC, of New York, and the Redleaf Group, of Saratoga, Calif. The Redleaf Group led LumiCyte's $5 million Series A round.
"We will use [the funding] to begin to scale up our operations," said Anthony Bashall, vice president of business development at LumiCyte. "We'll be hiring people, expanding to other facilities." Bashall added that the location of expansion is still being considered, saying the company is in discussions with potential partners and that will dictate locale.
LumiCyte CEO William Hutchens explained that expanding overseas doesn't necessarily mean facilities costs.
"As an information company we can establish a worldwide presence without actually building facilities," he said. "Our intent is to build satellites globally, but we get there by establishing business relationships globally."
LumiCyte's burn rate is fluctuating, Bashall said, because of the scale-up process. But the funding should be able to power the information aggregation and integration company for the next three years. However, LumiCyte will be generating revenue, Bashall said, so it could potentially last longer. Plus, there will be another influx of cash, either public or private, in the not-too-distant future.
"It depends on our revenue activity and the window of the market," Bashall said, discussing the possibility of becoming a public company. "But we would probably do another round in the next one to two years."
LumiCyte, of Fremont, Calif., was founded in 1999 by Hutchens when he was working at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The Surface-Enhanced Laser Desorption/Ionization (SELDI) technology that drives LumiCyte was developed there in Hutchens' lab, and Baylor College of Medicine sublicensed the technology to Molecular Analytical Systems. LumiCyte derives its rights and licenses from MAS.
SELDI biochips and other types of SELDI probes are surface enhanced to become active participants in the capture and analysis of individual target molecules or populations of molecules to be evaluated.
LumiCyte's scientists work with physicians to use biochips for early detection of disease onset, for distinguishing various disease types and disease stages, and monitoring individual patient response to therapy. It then uses its Utility-Driven Discovery strategy to discover alterations in protein profiles associated with changes in health states. It can move from discovery to high-throughput validation with the same biochips.
"LumiCyte's business model is to aggregate information into a massive database," Bashall said. "The data behind it is all the proteomics and genomics and clinical diagnostics information, the demographics of patients and patient history."
Hutchens thinks LumiCyte's technology can improve medicine, and to get it into the hands of those he thinks can use it most effectively, LumiCyte created a medical research fellowship program to help fight cancer, announced at the 92nd American Association for Cancer Research meeting in New Orleans last week.
"You can call this a community service if you want to," Hutchens said. "Or you can call it a way of getting our information-generating capabilities to people who are energetic and can make a difference, people just now beginning careers and doing something productive and people that will change the outcome of patient care."