By Matthew Willett

Structural GenomiX Inc. wants to stay ahead of the competition, and in their technology- and funding-intensive field the San Diego company's $45 million Series C financing is so necessary it's almost a given.

SG Cowen Securities Corp., of Boston, served as placement agent for this round of financing, which included BA Venture Partners, Amerindo, MDS Health Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors and Vector Fund Management. Existing investors Atlas Ventures, Apple Tree Partners Prospect Venture Partners, The Sprout Group, Index Ventures and Vulcan Northwest also contributed to the highly oversubscribed placement.

Structural GenomiX CEO Tim Harris told BioWorld Today the financing enables the company to produce at an effective scale.

"It's a financially intensive activity," he said. "With structural genomics it's almost binary in a sense, in that if you don't do it big enough you won't be successful. That's what we're doing, and that's what this financing is for. We're building for high throughput, and our focus is that, structures for various proteins and adding value to them. It requires a lot of different scientific expertise and technologies. It's analogous to sequencing in that it's a big project."

The company, founded little more than a year ago, uses high-throughput X-ray crystallography to make 3-dimensional protein structures from DNA sequences. Then the company identifies functional information that yields drug targets and binding points.

"It's a competitive field, but I think we're ahead of the competition." Future financial needs could be met in a variety of ways, he said, offering stock to the public among them.

"Liquidity is important, and we'll review all our options," he said. Beyond financing options, he added, the technology in which his company specializes is appealing for licensing to a broad group of companies in the sector.

"I think in many ways you can imagine a company wanting to work with us to acquire a structure," Harris said. "We've got strategic alliances and we'll have structures in a database which customers could pay a subscription to. The key is not just having a protein databank. The most important thing is what to do with the structure, when you've got them, identifying what they are and are not, finding targets and adding value by determining what binds to them rather than having a constrained combinatorial library, a library constrained by structure."

He said Structural GenomiX is currently talking to a number of big pharma companies and some larger biotech companies concerning partnerships or alliances centered on the company's protein structures.

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