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Zyomyx Closes $10M Funding, Bringing its VC Support to over $100 Million in Six Years

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Last week, Hayward, Calif.-based Zyomyx announced the closing of a $10 million funding round as it prepares for a planned launch of a second line of biochips in April.

The funding comes at a time when it appears the venture-capital market is ending a period of investment retreat; Wall Street appears to be more open to initial public offerings; and investors are driving up the shares of many biotech-related stocks.

Credit Suisse First Boston Private Equity led this 6th round of funding, joining existing investors Alloy Ventures, Lilly BioVentures, Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management, Mediphase Venture Partners, and Bio One Capital, the investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board.

The investment will let the company expand the line of its human cytokine protein profiling biochips, which were introduced in 2003, and help with the launch of the next biochip product, the murine cytokine biochip, as well as additional products later in the year, the company said in a statement.

Zyomyx was founded in 1998 and, with this round, has taken in a total of $101 million in six infusions. The company took in a seed-funding round of $1 million in July 1998, followed by $8.5 million in 1999, $22.1 million and another $2.7 million in 2000; and $32.6 million in 2001. Some 23 different entities have invested in the company, including GE Capital Life Science and Technology Finance, and Japan-based Softbank Life Science Equities, and Yasuda Development.

The firm has received at least four patents since June 2003 for micro devices and protein arrays.

Additionally, in June 2003, the company appointed Robert Monaghan, previously president of Sigma Diagnostics, as CEO, replacing Lawrence Cohen, who was CEO and president of the company since 2001. Cohen remains vice chairman of the firm.

Monaghan’s hire reflected a change in strategy for the company, in a move to commercialize its Protein Profiling Biochips, with an emphasis in inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and oncology, the company said in a statement.

The Protein Profiling chips are designed, like microarrays, to enable researchers to profile expression of 30 proteins in human serum samples at once. Currently, the company has a human cytokine profiling chip.

The chips contain surface-bound, high-affinity capture agents to detect specific proteins present in biological samples. Each chip supports the analysis of up to six 40-microliter samples assayed with up to 200 distinct immunoassays.

The company also offers a workstation that can process up to 12 biochips at a time, a fluorescence scanner, and software.

The company has alliances with Axon Instruments on scanners, and BD Biosciences for the development and manufacturing of optimized antibodies. It has inked partnerships with Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Partners Healthcare.

— MOK

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