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Cyntellect Lands $15M In Series D VC Cash, Will Expand Business, Staff, Platform Apps

Cyntellect this week announced that it has received $15.1 million in a Series D round of venture capital financing, which may grow by an additional $8.3 million.
The company will use the money to expand its operations, more than double its staff, accelerate the development and commercialization of its high-throughput optoinjector (HOP) and single-cell identification platform (SCIP) platforms, and explore new applications for its laser-enabled analysis and processing, or LEAP, platform.
San Diego-based Cyntellect currently employs 21 people and plans to hire between 25 and 30 additional staffers over the next year to flesh out its scientific, mechanical-, and optical-engineering departments and build a sales and marketing team, James Linton, chief business officer, told CBA News this week.
The company also plans to expand its 9,500-square-foot facility by approximately 14,000 square feet over the next 12 months to support increased manufacturing and R&D, said Linton. 
Despite at one point flirting with the idea of going public, Cyntellect for now plans to remain private (see CBA News, 9/15/06). However, the firm will consider opportunities to “monetize the value of the company” as they present themselves, said Linton.  
The financing was led by Radford, Va.-based Third Security’s New River Management V fund. One of Cyntellect’s unnamed major shareholders also participated in the financing.
Third Security also acquired the right to elect a majority of Cyntellect’s board of directors.
The company also plans to use some of the cash to develop additional applications for LEAP; accelerate the commercial development and launch of its high-throughput optoinjector, dubbed HOP; and develop its single-cell identification platform, called SCIP.
LEAP is an automated platform for the in situ purification and/or laser-based transfection of live cells. The system combines high-speed imaging and multi-parameter visual characterization of cells with simultaneous laser-based cell manipulation.  
HOP, based on the same core technology as LEAP, is a bench-top system designed to deliver molecules into living cells for applications in functional genomics, functional proteomics, and basic transfection.

The funding will help drive further applications development and broaden capabilities for LEAP.

SCIP, meantime, is used for label-free, automated cell counting and label-free assays. The technology uses Cyntellect’s IP for high-speed cell imaging and automates microplate cell counting and in situ chromogenic assays, said Linton.
Linton declined to say when the company plans to launch HOP and SCIP.
Cyntellect believes that its three platforms can be used in multiple markets. For example, its core technology can enable researchers to use flow cytometry on adhesive cells, such as tumor or neural cells, according to Rob Patzig, a senior managing director and chief investment officer at Third Security. Patzig said flow cytometry is a billion-dollar market
In addition, SCIP can be used for automated cell counting, and HOP can be used to transfect molecules, particularly siRNA, into cells to look at how they are expressed or what their effect is on gene expression, Patzig said. He said this market is worth several hundred million dollars
Existing transfection platforms, such as electroporation and lipid-based technologies, are frequently lethal to the cells being studied. Patzig said that cells can be non-lethally transfected using HOP.

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