By Matthew Willett

Microarray developer CombiMatrix Inc. raised $36 million in its second round of private equity financing this year, the company said Thursday.

The company will use the money for commercialization of it's microarray chip technology and possible strategic partnerships.

Investors included Emerging Growth Management, JDS Capital, Oracle Partners, OrbiMed Advisors, SAC Capital Management, Seneca Capital, Wheatley Partners and Acacia Research, the incubator company which now owns 58.6 percent of the company.

CombiMatrix, founded in 1995, completed a $17.5 million round of equity investment in March. Representatives of the Seattle-based company said the new placement was oversubscribed five times over.

The biochip company focuses on genomics and proteomic applications using its patented synthesis chip, and has plans to expand into specialty chemical development, corrosion control, battery materials, biomedical materials and marine anti-foulants.

CombiMatrix Chief Technology Officer Don Montgomery said the company's 3-dimensional semiconductor synthesis products cut assay time significantly while cutting costs to the company.

"We do in situ synthesis of our DNA and peptide arrays," he said. "We use electrochemistry to make the reagents that are used to synthesize these molecules in situ, so the result, the bottom line, is that you can make an array of DNAs or any array you want overnight."

Since the company utilizes existing industry for semiconductor manufacturing rather than creating its own, and investing in that process, Montgomery said CombiMatrix can cut the costs to consumers.

"What differentiates us is that we let the semiconductor industry make our chips, so we don't need the multimillion dollar infrastructure," he said. "We take the devices and use them to make biological arrays. We can turn around a custom array overnight."

The process also differs from other synthesis products in its third dimension, a porous reaction layer that sits atop the semiconductor.

"All of the chemistry happens inside this 3-dimensional porous layer. There's much better sensitivity, so we can use a simple video camera to collect our data, and it helps us to turn an assay around quickly, usually within 24 hours," Vice President of Business Development Sia Ghazvani said. "The other nice thing is that we make them from materials that are very bio-friendly. That's essential if we want to do proteomics or amino applications. Many times in other processes it's difficult to do protein applications because the protein denatures."

Ghazvani said the company is wrapping up testing on the chip, preparing to market it later this year.

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