By Matthew Willett

Neurome Inc. raised $9 million in its first round of financing, an oversubscribed offering that included Elan Pharmaceuticals Inc., with which the company also entered a three-year research collaboration.

Digital Gene Technologies Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., and Elan led the financing. They were joined by The Scripps Research Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and company founders Warren Young, John Morrison and Neurome CEO Floyd Bloom.

The research collaboration with Elan could mean an additional $4 million in service revenue for the fledgling neuroscience company headquartered at DGT's La Jolla incubation facility.

Neurome's technology will be combined with Elan's model system for brain pathology, specifically, Elan's mouse model of amyloid deposition, to perform a genomic analysis of a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

Neurome founder and CEO Floyd Bloom said the new company rose from National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored work he did on the Human Brain Project.

"For the last year we've been showing a business plan around for this company now called Neurome, and it picked up a lot this fall," Bloom told BioWorld Today. "We established some relationships with financial sources and were able to collect the money to start."

The seed financing should fund the company's equipment and personnel acquisition efforts, and should funding operating expense for the next three to four years, Bloom added. Neurome plans to hire about a dozen scientists within the next six months.

Ownership of the private corporation is "distributed pretty evenly," Bloom said, among the investors in this round of financing.

Neurome's technology includes MiceSlice, a standardized preparation platform for brain section tissues; NeuroZoom, a computer-aided tool for precise extraction, analysis and display of quantitative data from microscopic images of the brain; BrainArchive, a database for archiving, integrating and comparing brain structure and circuitry data; and BrainPrint, an automated comparison tool for quantitative, spatial and volumetric data from mice.

"The major piece in everyday use is called NeuroZoom. It allows a person sitting at a microscope to be able to collect the data in a quantitative, unbiased, statistically meaningful way, and it involves less work than doing it the old-fashioned way," Bloom said.

Bloom added that the technology is available for partnerships with a variety of companies, from big pharmas to start-up biotechs.

"We want to refine the technology and be able to go to new prospective partners with an even stronger deck of cards in our hand," he said.

And, he said, the competitive landscape is favorable to the young company.

"We've not heard of anyone else who's set up this kind of company," Bloom said. "Others have set up companies to look generically at changes in organs of transgenic mice, but we're the only one concentrating on the brain in this fashion with the technology we've developed."

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