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Decision Biomarkers Tosses CMA Moniker, Prepares for First Product Launch in 2006


Gearing up for the launch of its first product early next year, the company formerly known as Clinical MicroArrays has rechristened itself Decision Biomarkers, and is positioning itself as a protein array platform provider for pharma, biotech, and academic customers, according to a company official.

"We are in the process of signing three beta unit collaborations" for the Multi Mark Express Rx System, Jeanne Cardona, DB's vice president of sales, told BioArray News this week. "The production models will be ready in the first quarter of next year."

In addition Cardona said that Decision Biomarkers would be doubling its staff and seeking to close on a $10 million round of private financing by the end of the year, all in connection with the launch of the system.

Cardona described the Multi Mark Express System as a "small bench-top reader … that reads multiplexed immunoassays in the proteomics field." The firm's website recommends the system for applications such as "biomarker validation through pre-clinical evaluation and into clinical trials testing."

Cardona said that the company will officially launch the system at Cambridge Healthtech Institute's Protein Biomarkers conference in late September.

"It represents our actual space in the marketplace. 'Microarrays' is indicative of DNA, and we work just in the protein field, so we thought that it would be confusing to our customers to have [that name]."

The company will then focus on "developing multiplexed immunoassays in the proteomics field to help drug companies, pharmaceuticals, and biotechs in their clinical trials and drug-development programs," Cardona explained.

The launch of the automated system will be the first commercial activity for 2-year-old Decision Biomarkers. To date, the company's sole revenue has been as a distributor for Greiner Bio-One's PATH Protein Microarray substrates.

Cardona said that DB decided to shuck its old name to make sure its target market knows it only deals in protein arrays and will have nothing to do with oligonucleotides.

"It represents our actual space in the marketplace," Cardona said. "'Microarrays' is indicative of DNA, and we work just in the protein field, so we thought that it would be confusing to our customers to have [that name]," she explained.

Looking for Staff and a Cash Infusion

Cardona said that Decision Biomarkers will be hiring more sales staff "to hit the pavement running and [to] start working on pre-orders for production units" by December.

Cardona came on board in June, replacing Darren Lee who had served as vice president of sales and marketing.

Lee told BioArray News last November that competitors for the Multi Mark system would include Luminex, Bio-Rad, Pierce, Beckman Coulter, Zyomyx, and "even some of the mass spec pattern recognition programs like those from Ciphergen" (see BAN 11/3/2004).

Lee had also predicted that the product would be in betas by June 2005. Cardona said that the company had an "aggressive timeline and a realistic timeline" and that the company is "still on schedule."

In addition to adding sales people, Cardona told BioArray News that Decision Biomarkers will double its staff by next spring. "We are currently at 23 full-time employees, and we are looking to grow our head count by another 20 employees over the next two quarters," she said.

To make room for the additional employees, the firm is also relocating its headquarters from Natick, Mass., to Waltham, just nine miles away. "Now that we have … moved from our R&D phase to a pre-commercialization phase, we needed a bigger, state-of-the-art facility to accommodate adding new staff and equipment," CEO Roger Dowd said in a statement.

"Our new location has more than 10,000 square feet. This [will enable] us to hire 20 new employees," Dowd said.

The company will initially market the system on its own, although it is looking at potential distribution partners. Cardona said that the company won't seek possible distributors until the end of this year.

Cardona also said that as the year winds down, Decision Biomarkers will be looking to close a $10 million round of investment, mainly from its initial investors, Oxford Bioscience Partners, Rock Maple Ventures, and Fletcher Spaght Venture Partners, who provided $7 million in financing last year.

"Right now we are still discussing that with our board. Our initial investors will be making a subsequent investment, but we are also looking to take on new investors as well, and our current board is helping to facilitate and lead those efforts," Cardona said.

— Justin Petrone ([email protected])

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