By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

Microbia Inc. raised $23 million in its second round of private equity financing for a total of $32.8 million raised since it was incorporated in 1998.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company intends to use the proceeds, combined with anticipated revenues from contracts with pharmaceutical and chemical companies that use Microbia's technology for fungally derived drugs and other metabolities, to finance its lead drug development project.

The start-up company has $25 million in cash, according to Peter Hecht, Microbia CEO.

New investors are BancBoston Ventures, Essex Investment Management Co. LLC and about 50 private individuals. Existing investors who also participated in the second round are Venrock Associates, Polaris Venture Partners, Aberdare Ventures and other private investors.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have such wonderful investors," Hecht said. "We have a large and very unusual and special private investor group that is a huge benefit to our company in all sorts of ways."

Microbia develops products for industrial genomic and anti-infective applications. Its priorities are biofilm inhibition factors and antifungal drugs, and technology that enhances the production of fungally secreted drugs.

"We are talking to a number of companies about partnerships with them, and those are coming along quite well and we should be announcing a number of those quite soon," Hecht said. "We are developing our own drugs for antifungal and antibacterial purposes and we have things in the pipeline, but nothing in the clinical stages that we can discuss now."

Microbia was founded by Hecht, Brian Cali, Todd Milne and Eric Summers, all former research fellows at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The group incorporated the company in January 1998 and started operations in December 1998.

In its first round of financing in 1999, Microbia raised $9.8 million.

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