Metasyn Inc., a company engaged in developing in vivo imagingagents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has completed a $4million private placement. The placement was arranged through twoleading venture capital firms, Bessemer Venture Partners and AccelPartners.Metasyn of Cambridge, Mass., initiated operations in 1992 with a $3.5million research and equity investment from Japan's Nippon ShojiKaisha, Ltd., and an equity investment from Sumitomo Corp. TheJapanese companies did not participate in this second round offinancing.Metasyn's products are based on patented small-molecule technologydeveloped by the company's founder, chairman and chief executiveofficer, Randall Lauffer. The technology is exclusively licensed fromthe Massachusetts General Hospital.Metasyn said its Receptor-Induced Magnetic Enhancement (RIME)technology increases the concentration of the agent in the target tissueand generates a special magnetic effect that results in an increased MRIsignal."The small molecule contrast agent binds to a specific protein in thebody, so that you end up with a very bright image," Lauffer toldBioWorld.Lauffer said Metasyn plans its first human clinical trial, involving thecompany's liver agent, in the fall. "The agent goes into the liver cellsand binds to a protein in the liver," Lauffer said. "This allows us to seetumors that have spread into the liver from different sites. You get adynamic simulation of liver function that allows you to see which partsare functioning and which are not."Metasyn is also developing a blood pool agent that binds to the proteinhuman serum albumen (HSA) in the blood. Lauffer said this techniquepresents a very bright picture from the blood at very low doses. He saidthe goal is to get the contrast agent into the body and out again in areasonable period of time. In a test on rats, Lauffer said Metasyn'sagent was totally cleared out of the body within 24 hours.

-- Philippa Maister

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