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Fledgling Microfluidics Maker Completes $4.5M in Financing

NEW YORK, Jan 17 - BioMicro Systems, a Salt Lake City-based company that is deve loping microfluidics devices, raised $4.5 million in private financing, the company said Wednesday.

Among the company’s backers are vSpring, a Utah-based biotechnology and information technology venture fund, and Macrogen, Ltd, a Korean biotechnology company.

The company said it used a portion of these new funds to ramp up its staff to 11 people and  also plans to hire additional executives and staff and to further develop its technology. The company hopes to raise an additional $15 million - $20 million in private financing beginning in the first quarter of this year.

BioMicro’s core product is a microfluidics chip, where samples are run through an automated circuit of experimental steps. This device can be used in genomic sequencing and testing and in diagnostics, military, and environmental testing. Myriad Genetics, BioMicro’s sole client, has used these devices for DNA testing for the past two years.

While Caliper, Aurora, and others already have similar microfluidics devices on the market, BioMicro said its device can be distinguished from the competition because the fluid movement is powered by a syringe pump, not electricity, and the capillary channel through which the fluid runs is hydrophobic, not hydrophilic.

This design gives the BioMicro chip certain advantages, said Bill Pagels, BioMicro’s vice president of business development and marketing.

“They have to move biological entities through their circuits using at least two [electric] probes on a circuit,” Pagels said. “A Caliper lab on chip that has a half dozen different channels, with two probes on each channel, [is] a much more complicated entity, while we have a simple syringe pump.”

“As a consequence, we believe our technology could be applied in many, many markets that don’t require this complicated interface. Not only the microfluidic circuit, but the source of power to drive it could all be disposable.”

BioMicro’s microfluidics device are designed to cut costs by reducing the number of steps in DNA sequencing and other experiments from as many as 20 to as few as four.

The company can also build custom microfluidics circuits for experiments on plastic chips, in as short as 30 minutes after receiving a design for the circuit, Pagels said.

Currently, the company has patent applications pending for its technologies and expects to have a patent issued for the hydrophobic microfluidics technology during the first quarter of this year.