By Matthew Willett

Harvard Bioscience Inc., freshly capitalized by its $51.2 million initial public offering, completed its acquisition of Mitoscan Corp.'s high-throughput toxicology screening business for a total of $300,000 plus undisclosed additional contingent payments and royalty payments based on future sales.

The drug discovery tool developer's acquisition of the toxicology screening business adds to its battery of drug discovery and development tools.

CEO Chane Graziano said he could not comment, citing quiet-period restrictions contingent with the company's recent public offering.

That funding, led by underwriters Thomas Weisel Partners LLC, Dain Rauscher Inc. and ING Barings LLC, was dedicated to funding acquisitions, in part, in addition to funding operations and retiring debt, according to the company's registration filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The IPO earlier this month consisted of 6.4 million shares sold at $8 apiece.

Prior to that offering, as of Sept. 30, the company had about $2.15 million in cash and cash equivalents. It had 24.8 million shares outstanding after the offering.

Founded in 1996, Holliston, Mass.-based Harvard Bioscience focuses on protein purification and ADMET (absorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination and toxicology) screening tools.

The Mitoscan screening technology is the latest in a string of acquisitions and in-licensing expanding Harvard's drug discovery tool portfolio that stretches back to 1998, when the company acquired Medical Systems Corp. for $1 million in cash.

It's portfolio now includes cell injection systems acquired in 1998 from Medical Systems Corp. for $1 million; DNA/RNA/protein calculators, spectrophotometers, and amino acid analyzers acquired in 1999 from Pharmacia Biotech Ltd. for $7 million; the in vitro toxicology screening tool ScanTox, in-licensed in 1999; and the NaviCyte diffusion chamber system for drug absorption testing, acquired from a subsidiary of Trega Biosciences Inc. for $390,000 in cash and future royalties in 1999.

Most recently, in July, Harvard acquired AmiKa Corp.'s portfolio of purification tips, spin columns, a 96-well drug-binding assay and related technology and intellectual property for $3.1 million in cash.

Harvard's customers include Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York; Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis; Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J.; Warner-Lambert Parke-Davis, of Morris Plains, N.J.; Pfizer Inc., of New York; Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., and the former Smith-Kline Beecham plc, of London.

Company executives carry heavy ownership in Harvard. Director Christopher Dick holds a 26.1 percent stake in the company after the offering, and CEO Graziano holds a 20.5 percent share. Ascent Venture Partners L.P., of Boston, is the largest institutional owner with 10.2 percent of the company's shares outstanding after the offering.

Harvard's stock (NASDAQ:HBIO) closed Thursday at $10.375, up 87.5 cents.