By Randall Osborne

Aimed at developing informatics systems to help ease the genomics information jam, NetGenics Inc. raised $17.7 million in a private placement.

"We want to get two additional products out this year," said Manuel Glynias, president and CEO of Cleveland-based NetGenics. One is a computerized tool for proteomics, which is the analysis of protein expression. The company expects to introduce it in late summer or early fall. The other is a "chemi-informatics" product, Glynias said.

"The goal is to ask questions that cross over between biology and chemistry, in a single interface," he said.

"People have terrific databases of small molecules, and we couldn't expect to supplant any of those," Glynias said. "We want to supply an interface between those and the tools biologists use."

The financing was led by International Biotechnology Trust plc, of Princeton, N.J., a U.K.-based fund managed by Rothschild Asset Management Ltd., in London.; and a large institutional investor in the U.S.

NetGenics' lead product is Synergy, a distributed computing environment that integrates legacy, third-party and proprietary data and software, which can be custom-designed for individual companies' needs and includes tailored support.

In a single software framework, Synergy integrates and organizes incompatible databases and analysis algorithms into a graphical format that mirrors the way multidisciplinary drug-discovery teams are organized.

As an access gateway, Synergy requires only a Java-enabled program (such as a Web browser) to use, which means laboratory scientists can perform sophisticated DNA sequence analyses and pass them along to other researchers quickly and easily.

"It's not the old 'waterfall' that it used to be," Glynias said. "The data flows back and forth."

The standardized system lets users outsource significant elements of their bioinformatics work, making the process more efficient.

Last year, NetGenics teamed with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc. to develop more comprehensive software linking Synergy with Incyte's genomic database software. (See BioWorld Today, June 26, 1997, p. 1.)

"We both have had lots going on in the past few months," Glynias said, but the partnership is on track. "We just had a meeting with them last week."

In addition to the two lead investors, the private placement attracted funds from, among others, WPG-Farber Present Fund LP and OrbiMed Advisors LLC, both of New York.

Previous investors taking part in the financing included Incyte; John Pappajohn, of Des Moines, Iowa; Edgewater Private Equity, also of Des Moines; Oxford Bioscience Partners of Westport, Conn.; Venrock Associates, of New York; Crystal Internet Venture Fund, of Cleveland; and Casdin Life Science Partners, of New York.

Placement agent for the deal was Hambrecht & Quist LLC, of San Francisco. *