Mass High Tech February 2, 2004

 

Little things add up to $10.9M financing for BioTrove
By Dyke Hendrickson

BioTrove Inc. recently received a large infusion of cash to pursue a very small technology.

The Woburn company recently raised $10.9 million in venture capital to support its work in methods to accelerate drug discovery.

Company executives say they will use the money to continue their research into micro- and nanoscale engineering “to overcome current bottlenecks in pharmaceutical drug discovery and biotechnology.”

“We’re pleased with the progress of the company,” said Joshua Phillips, managing director at Catalyst Health and Technology Partners, one of the venture capital firms that invested.

“They have a creative technology, and they are achieving important markers. Also, they have revenue now and are developing a sales force to generate greater exposure to the company.”

The investors supporting the financing include Catalyst Health and Technology Partners, CB Health Ventures, Zero Stage Capital and BioFrontier Partners.

The funds will be used to continue development and commercialization of the company’s micro- and nanoscale products and services, the Living Chip and Momentum Assay Development and Screening.

BioTrove was founded in 1997 as Advanced Instrumentation Systems by Ian Hunter of the MIT Bio-Instrumentation Laboratory and several colleagues.

Officials say that in the interest of accelerating discovery, companies often choose to forgo many promising targets because of the complexity in developing screening assays around such targets.

They say their Momentum technology dissolves this bottleneck, transforming the drug discovery process by providing assay development and screening for these targets.

BioTrove’s goal is to deliver a dramatic increase in the density and rate at which chemicals and materials may be stored, manipulated and tested for desired properties.

Areas of applications for BioTrove’s technology include drug discovery, protein engineering, genomics, proteomics, biosensors, chemical engineering and materials sciences.

Company officials say that customers would include laboratories involved in drug research, such as those maintained by universities, pharmaceutical corporations and private research institutions.

The Living Chip technology enables rapid initiation and analysis of between 10,000 and 1 million reactions simultaneously, company officials say.

The Living Chip consists of a plate of “high density, micromachined through-holes providing the functionality of a microtiter plate with the density of a micro-array.”

BioTrove plans to develop methods for synthesizing arrays of molecules directly on the Living Chip.

Momentum, according to BioTrove scientists, is “an ultra-high throughput mass spectrometry system allowing sample analysis at a maximum sustainable rate of one sample per second with an atmospheric pressure ionization MS interface.”

The recent venture round will enable the company to continue its research and marketing efforts.

“This financing will support the development and initial commercialization of our technologies,” said Robert H. Ellis, president and CEO of BioTrove, in a statement.

“We have already begun to commercialize Momentum and plan to launch the first application of the Living Chip in the coming months.”

Concurrent with the financing, BioTrove has appointed Ben R. Bronstein, managing director at Zero Stage Capital, to the company’s board of directors.

At Zero Stage, Bronstein is responsible for the firm’s life sciences investments and works closely with port-folio companies through all stages of development.

He has held senior executive positions with various biotechnology companies, including interim CEO for Spherics Inc.; co-founder, president and CEO of Peptimmune Inc.; and vice president of medical affairs and medical director of BioSurface Technology Inc., which was acquired by Genzyme Corp. shortly after its initial public offering.

“Dr. Bronstein brings a wealth of biotechnology and life sciences experience to BioTrove,” Ellis said.

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