Back in 1997, biochemist Bruce Seligmann founded a combinatorial chemistry company called Systems Integration Drug Discovery. And since genomics was hot, he created a subsidiary as well: High Throughput Genomics, to apply the chemistry for high-throughput analysis of genomic samples.
As it turned out, combichem wasn’t that great a business to be in. So last year Seligmann sold the parent company and kept HTG, which alone had a market size “somewhere between $2 billion and $10 billion.”
Now he considers the split perhaps the best business decision he has ever made. “We already have more than $2 million revenue locked up,” he said at the end of January. “And it’s only the first month of the year.”
After just closing a $1.25 million first round of funding and nailing Psychiatric Genomics as a customer, HTG is almost tripling its space to 9,000 square feet and its number of employees to 20. It has also picked among the debris of the bankrupt Genometrix for IP and equipment to complement its own technology at fire-sale prices.
HTG’s product, ArrayPlate, is a 96-well format universal expression array. “It’s not a target-specific array. We don’t have to know ahead of time what we’re going to use it for,” Seligmann says.
Since each well can probe 16 genes, and each plate effectively has 96 arrays, the technology has wider applications than simply gene expression. It can also be used for target validation, high-throughput screening, metabolism, and clinical development diagnostic assays. “You can do metabolism in human and animal cells before you ever put a compound in either species,” says Seligmann.
— Aaron J. Sender