Labcyte raises $21 million in financing round

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Labcyte has announced that it has closed its latest round of
financing in which $21 milllion was raised. The funds will be used
to expand its low-volume liquid handling business with a view to
marketing the next Labcyte product in the genomics and proteomics

Labcyte's business interests are based around a proprietary technology that uses focused acoustics (ultrasound) to precisely transfer nanolitres of liquid. The company has commercialised this technology in the Echo 550 compound reformatter. This technology transfers library compounds directly into assay plates and eliminates the need for tips, washing and intermediate dilutions.

The company also plan to market the Echo 380 auditor - the first system that enables rapid determination of solution volume and water content in compound collections. The company is also developing an instrument for preparing tissue samples for quantitative imaging by MALDI mass spectrometry. This technique provides information about the spatial distribution of proteins in a tissue and has wide applications in toxicology, basic research and pathology.

Additionally, Labcyte​ expects to deploy its acoustic technologies in genomics and proteomics by developing systems for small volume expression and mutation assays.

The technology has broad applications in the life sciences including dispensing equipment, assay systems, particle manufacturing, microarrays, and living cell transfer devices.

Labcyte's latest round follows 2002's series B financing in which $22 million was raised. This series C financing was led by Cross Atlantic Partners and included Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management LLC and the Bay Area Equity Fund, a fund managed by JPMorgan, as new investors. Existing investors Abingworth Management, Alloy Ventures, Delphi Ventures and the Sprout Group also participated in the $21 million financing.

Labcyte have been making big waves within the pharmaceutical industry with its innovative touchless transfer technology based on focused acoustic energy. Indeed, Labcyte report six pharmaceutical companies have purchased the Echo 550 with three companies using multiple systems.

Astrazeneca recently published a study that used Labcyte's technology to dispense liquids, transferring amounts as low as 5 nl, making it possible to have different amounts of samples dispensed directly from the source plate to make assay plates without multiple dilution steps.

AstraZeneca conducted a feasibility study for using the Echo 550 to produce serial dilution assay plates, as well as to evaluate the performance of the new methodology. While they concluded that the Echo 550 bought many advantages to compound transfer, they also said that with all of criteria met by the Echo 550 was it not the sole answer for the HTS needs.

"Some limitations of this technology are that the source needs to be at least 70 per cent DMSO, and that the Echo 550 can utilise a very limited source plate type,"​ the study commented.

Related topics: Clinical Development

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