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UPDATE: ActivX Biosciences Raises $20M; Plans to Double Staff, Expand Platform

NEW YORK, July 10 - With $20 million from a private placement that closed Tuesday, ActivX Biosciences plans to double its scientific staff and build up its capabilities for applying its chemistry-based proteomics platform to drug discovery, chief operating officer Robert Hillman told GenomeWeb Tuesday.

ActivX intends to have 50 scientists on staff by the end of the year, Hillman said, up from 25 current PhD employees. The company also plans to boost their sample throughput to about 1000 samples a day. In addition, he said the company wants to "build up our biological capabilities, and finance the steps [required] to mine targets."

The company's technology, initially developed by co-founder Benjamin Cravatt and his team at the Scripps Research Institute, revolves around a technique for synthesizing chemical probes that bind with active sites specific to whole families of proteins. Compared to traditional techniques for separating proteins, such as 2D gel electrophoresis, which often become swamped with proteins found in large amounts, ActivX's technique can more easily isolate even low abundance proteins because the probes are specific, Hillman said.

"We've demonstrated our technology, now we're initially speaking with pharmaceutical partners," Hillman said. "We're in discussions with several, and expect a deal by the end of the year."

In addition to announcing that the company had raised capital, ActivX said Tuesday that its president and chief scientific officer, John Kozarich, had taken over the position of CEO from Hillman, who now serves as chief operating officer. Hillman said the change was part of the original plan when Kozarich joined the company four months ago from Merck, where he served as a vice president.

Since its founding in August, 2000, ActivX, of San Diego, has raised $26 million in venture funding.

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