By Brady Huggett

Signature BioScience Inc. completed a $17 million Series C private funding round to develop and commercialize its PhenoDynamic profiling technology, and for its own research efforts.

"We're very pleased," said Andrew Sandham, president and chief operating officer of Signature BioScience (SBS). "We were seeking $10 million to $12 million, but we had a lot of interest in the company, so we increased the size of the round."

The Series C amount brings Signature BioScience's funding total to $21 million since its founding in 1998.

SBS uses proprietary label-free bioassay systems and bioinformatics databases to improve protein, cell-based and genomic assays. The PhenoDynamic profiling allows for observation of the structural changes that occur when molecules, proteins and cells interact. Each interaction is unique and provides a "signature" that identifies the interaction and functionality of it.

"We actually view the structure and the changes in drug targets in solution, and correlate this into function," Sandham said. "We are using it to develop assays for new drug targets - ion channel assays, G protein-coupled receptors, nuclear receptors, enzyme targets and other whole cell-based assays."

The technology allows for real-time measurement and interpretation of biological interactions in disease pathways, physiological processes and drug actions, the company said.

SBS was founded in Redwood City, Calif., by John Hefti, who is a theoretical physicist by training but studied medicine as well, a connection that led him to develop PhenoDynamic profiling. In 1996, while working at Stanford, Hefti realized there was more that could be done with spectroscopy, so he left the university, rented a lab and began to do research with his own money. Two years later he filed a patent. In 1998, he received a combined $1 million in funding from Prospect Venture Partners and Abingworth Management Inc. and began to build Signature BioScience. Hefti remains the company's chief technical officer.

Databases, In-House Discovery On Tap

SBS said its next move will be to invest time and energy into the application of the PhenoDynamic Profiling technology.

"We are looking to come up with a new class of biological assays," said Sandham. "But to interpret all this data, you need databases and we're working in that direction. And then we want to apply all this to some in-house discovery of our own."

In August 1999, the company moved from Redwood City to its current Burlingame, Calif., location and is planning another move to Hayward, Calif., by Nov. 1. n

No Comments