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Inpharmatica Secures $44M in New Funding To Boost Compute Capacity, Discovery Efforts

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Structural bioinformatics company Inpharmatica secured £31.25 million ($44 million) in second-round funding led by Dresdner Kleinwort Capital last week.

Additional investors included Abingworth Management, Advent Venture Partners, Gilde Investment, and Vertex Management, as well as 3i Group, Unibio, and GIMV, which contributed to Inpharmatica''s initial funding of 4 million pounds in 1999, and Genentech, which made a strategic investment of an undisclosed amount.

"This is a very major fund raise now and we''re delighted with it," Inpharmatica CEO Malcolm Weir told BioInform. "It''s not the easiest time to raise money right now at a decent valuation and we''ve got a really excellent group of investors, so we''re really pleased with it."

Weir credits the company''s "trailblazing" business model with attracting the interest and confidence of its investors. Inpharmatica''s flagship product, Biopendium, offers pre-calculated comparisons of protein sequence and structure data in the public domain, a "canned computing" approach that Weir said is unique compared to most information-based products.

"If you look at most database sales, they''re essentially dominated by data," Weir said. "The informatics is really a wrapper around the data." Biopendium''s automated analysis adds significant value to the data, Weir said, citing the company''s multimillion-dollar deals with Pfizer and Genentech as proof of that value. "Those deals are big by bioinformatics standards," said Weir. "Especially when you consider that we''re not putting any proprietary data in."

Inpharmatica intends to apply the new funding to further develop Biopendium to include functional genomics and proteomics data. In addition, the company''s Chematica cheminformatics platform will be expanded to include pharmacological information and structure activity information on sets of compounds.

The company also plans to put the money toward doubling its computational capacity. Inpharmatica currently relies on an 1,100-processor Linux cluster to perform the two-month calculations required to populate its database. The new capacity will come in the form of new processors as well as external sources, Weir said.

Finally, Inpharmatica intends to use its new funding to accelerate its drug discovery efforts. While the company is already involved in a cost- and revenue-sharing collaboration with antibacterial company Arrow Therapeutics, "We''re seeking to do much larger deals with bigger companies that have full development capacity," said Weir.

Inpharmatica will continue to sell licenses to Biopendium, but intends to reserve its Chematica platform for milestone- and royalty-based discovery collaborations, Weir said. The company is also building its own biochemistry lab near its informatics facilities in London.

"We will increasingly plan to retain more and more value from the discovery pipeline," Weir said. "We''ve worked out the numbers and if we do get enough deals based upon the leverage that we do get from our bioinformatics, which is very much in demand, then we feel we can strike very attractive deals even outside of doing our own discovery."

— BT

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