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LifeSpan BioSciences Completes $19 Million in Financing For Expression Database

NEW YORK, April 17- LifeSpan Biosciences has raised $19 million in a third round of private financing, the company said Tuesday.

LifeSpan of Seattle, plans to use the new funds to automate and enhance its high-throughput gene expression analysis technology, launch new disease and gene family databases, including a cancer database, and fortify its gene research programs.

This round of Series C financing was led by SAIC Venture Capital, and also included Zurich-based Equity4life, current shareholders, and private investors. It brings the company's total capital raised to $37.4 million, following $5.2 million in series A financing raised in 1999, and $13.2 million raised in 2000.

"The size of this round of funding represents a strong endorsement of our molecular pathology approach to the production of genomic information," said Joseph Brown, CEO of LifeSpan, in a statement. "We believe our technology holds promise for significantly accelerating drug discovery and development, and clearly the investment community shares our vision."

In an effort to map disease-associated genes and proteins, LifeSpan has performed gene expression and protein localization analysis on its tissue bank of normal and diseased human tissues. The company is compiling these findings into a comprehensive gene and protein expression database of cell types and tissues, with high-resolution digital images. LifeSpan hopes to provide expression profiles for all 30,000-plus genes.

Currently, LifeSpan markets a subset of this information, a database of G protein-coupled receptors, and has early access arrangements for the GPCR database with a number of pharmaceutical companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Novartis Research Foundation, and Pfizer. The company hopes to market its full expression database products to pharmaceutical and biotech companies for drug discovery.

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