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Report: Nabsys Shuts Down

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Single-molecule DNA mapping firm Nabsys has reportedly closed its doors.

As first reported on Friday by GoLocalProv, a Rhode Island news outlet, the company's facility in Providence was shuttered last week.

Nabsys' main phone line remained unanswered this morning and e-mails to various company officials, directors, and scientific advisors seeking confirmation of the closure were not returned before deadline.

A 2004 Brown University spinout, Nabsys was developing solid-state nanodetector technology for single-molecule DNA mapping. Its approach relied on electronically measuring the distance between sequence-specific probes on a DNA molecule as it passed by a semiconductor detector and promised research and clinical applications for structural variation analysis, genome mapping, and, eventually, DNA sequencing.

Earlier this year the company said it was collaborating with researchers at Ariana Pharmaceutical to study structural variations in breast and prostate cancer and was working on scaling up its technology.

Nabsys shifted its focus to cancer research after a management shake-up last year, when it replaced CEO and Co-founder Barrett Bready with Steve Lombardi, the former CEO of Real Time Genomics and Helicos BioSciences, and brought in Tony Shuber, former CTO of cancer drug firm Ignyta, as CSO.

The company had been financed through a mix of venture capital and government grants, raising $41 million in private equity alone over a period of four years.

In 2009 Nabsys closed a $4 million Series A equity round that was led by Point Judith Capital, with participation from earlier investors, including the Slater Technology Fund, which is backed by the state of Rhode Island.

A $7 million Series B round followed in 2010, led by Stata Venture Partners. Point Judith Capital and other prior investors also participated in that round. A year later, Nabsys raised $10 million in a Series C round, also led by Stata Venture Partners, and in 2013, the company closed a $20 million Series D round to support the commercial launch of its platform. That latest round was led by Bay City Capital, a new investor, with Point Judith and Stata participating.

In addition to venture capital funding, the company also won a number of government research grants. In 2007 Nabsys obtained a two-year, $500,000 grant under the National Human Genome Research Institute's '$1,000 genome' program, and in 2010 it won $250,000 through a program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service.

Nabsys was founded in 2004 by Xinsheng Sean Ling and Leon Cooper, physics professors at Brown, as well as Bready. In 2005 the company licensed intellectual property around nanopore technology that was developed in Ling's lab.

A year later Nabsys merged with GeneSpectrum, another Brown University startup, through an all-stock transaction. GeneSpectrum had been co-founded in 2000 by John Oliver, a chemistry professor at Brown who went on to become Nabsys' vice president of research and development. The company had been developing DNA hybridization technology, and together the firms planned to develop hybridization-assisted nanopore sequencing.

In 2010 Nabsys showed proof-of-principle for its technology at an NHGRI grantee meeting in North Carolina. Two years later the firm hired Stan Rose, the former CEO of NimbleGen, as its first chief commercial officer, and in 2013 it announced plans to launch a first version of its platform, for mapping microbial genomes, later that year.

In early 2014 Nabsys presented its platform, which at the time included eight independent modules with a single nanodetector each, along with data from collaborative projects, at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference. It also said at the time that it was planning to start selling commercial instruments later that year.