BORNHEIM, Germany - Direvo Biotech AG, of Cologne, closed a first round of equity financing of EUR8.75 million (US$8 million).

"This financing will help us to expand our pipeline of products, generated by directed-evolution technology," Direvo CEO Andre Koltermann told BioWorld International. "We develop enzymes for therapy, diagnosis and industrial processes by evolutionary improvement."

Direvo researchers combine DNA variation methods with ultra-high-throughput screening.

"The genes for the enzymes required are expressed in bacteria, yeast or in cell cultures. After each variation round, we select out of 100,000 to 1 million altered enzymes the best ones by detecting fluorescent signals from single molecules," Koltermann said. "With screening technologies in highly miniaturized and automated formats, the company runs most application-relevant assays, which will guarantee the desired improvements of the enzymes."

He said Direvo has enzymes for industrial purposes such as fine chemistry and biochemical processing in its pipeline and enzymes for pharmaceutical issues. Further details were not disclosed.

Techno Venture Management, of Munich, was lead investor. Others were Mulligan BioCapital AG, of Hamburg, and individuals including Nobel Laureate Manfred Eigen, of Gvttingen, Germany, and Qiagen officials Metin Colpan and Peer Schatz.

Direvo was founded in July by Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, and private founders Ulrich Kettling, Jens Stephan and Koltermann from Manfred Eigen's Lab at the Max Planck Institute for biophysical chemistry in Gvttingen.