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Startup OncoCyte to Use $10M Equity Infusion to Develop Cancer Dx, Therapeutics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – BioTime today announced that its majority-owned subsidiary OncoCyte has received $10 million in a new round of equity financing, which it will use to further develop diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer.

OncoCyte develops products based on embryonic stem-cell-derived technology for diagnosing and treating cancer, including molecular diagnostics for the early detection and improved treatment of the disease. The Alameda, Calif.-based company said it has filed patent applications for more than 100 cancer-associated genes discovered using its proprietary algorithms, and the new funding will be used to expand its patent portfolio on the new genes and to advance development and commercialization of diagnostics and therapeutics based on them.

The $10 million equity financing consists of $3 million in cash from George Karfunkel, to whom OncoCyte sold 3 million shares of its common stock, $1 million in cash from BioTime, and $6 million of BioTime common shares. Karfunkel and his son Bernard Karfunkel had been minority shareholders in OncoCyte. As a result of the stock sale, they now own about 25 percent of the company's common stock.

OncoCyte was founded in 2009 to develop genetically modified stem cells that find malignant tumors and carry genes that can destroy cancer cells.

"Our research has demonstrated that many of the same genes associated with the normal growth of embryonic stem cells are abnormally reactivated by cancer cells," Joseph, Wagner, CEO of OncoCyte, said in a statement. "Using this logic, we have developed a discovery platform that has already identified numerous, previously unknown cancer-associated genes."

In addition to its diagnostic development work, OncoCyte is developing cellular therapeutics for cancer therapy "that will take advantage of the unique biology of vascular endothelial precursor cells," the company said.