By Matthew Willett
Cellzome GmbH closed its second round of private financing for proceeds of $31 million.
The self-managed financing by the Heidelberg, Germany, company was led by Index Ventures, of Geneva, Switzerland. Including this second round the company has raised a total of $39 million since its founding in May.
Second-round investors included Sofinnova Ventures, of Paris, Schroders Investment Management Ltd., of London, and existing investors Atlas Ventures, of Boston; Advent International, of Boston; and Heidelberg Innovation BioScience Venture, of Heidelberg.
"It's always pleasing to complete a financing because doing this business with access to financial resources is so much more straightforward than doing it without," Cellzome CEO Charles Cohen told BioWorld Today. "We're always happy to have access to financial resources and we're happy to have access to capital from the people we've raised money from."
Cellzome focuses on functional proteomics, the selective retrieval and characterization of protein complexes, and mapping protein interactions. It was formed in partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, and its offices are located on the EMBL campus there. It said it will use the funding to expand its research and development program and to increase the throughput of its technology platform.
"The whole idea is recognizing that proteins act in combination, that protein complexes are responsible for biological effect," Cohen said. "The idea here is to infer function, and I think what we have is a powerful tool to infer information about the function of different proteins.
"As so many genes are implicated in disease or in the effectiveness of a particular drug, if we can build a more complete context that the target works in it creates a significant opportunity for the development of second-generation drugs with better potency, more specific action, a better safety profile, etc.," he said. "We're trying to capitalize on all the information coming from the genome initiative and use it as a basis to identify proteins for drug development."
He said the company will use the funding to scale up and improve its technology.
"I think that we'd like to be able to make a more robust and much more scalable technology to be able to identify leads we'll pursue ourselves for pharmaceutical development," Cohen said. He added that the company's future, however, is in drug development.
"I hope that in a year, instead of talking about building the technology platform, we'll actually be talking about leads we've identified that have importance for medical applications," he said.
This funding should last Cellzome about two years, and Cohen said the addition of three new owners has produced some dilution.
"There's a lot of optimism and a lot of enthusiasm, a tremendous sense of energy," Cohen concluded. "We're fortunate to be able to operate in Heidelberg on the EMBL campus. There's wonderful access to a very strong group of scientists. When you're starting it's always nice to be able to operate in a context of scientific excellence, and I think we have that."