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Biocartis Closes $41.3M Series B to Further Develop Molecular Dx Platform

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This story has been updated from a previous version to include information about the partnership between Biocartis and Debiopharm.

Biocartis has raised €30 million ($41.3 million) in a Series B financing round, the Swiss molecular diagnostics company said today.

Biocartis said that it will use the proceeds from the financing to accelerate the development and validation of the first version of its forthcoming molecular diagnostics platform, which will incorporate proprietary nucleic acid sample prep technology recently acquired from Royal Philips Electronics.

Swiss biopharmaceutical conglomerate Debiopharm and Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation participated in the financing round as new investors, each thus obtaining a minority stake in Biocartis.

In a separate announcement today, Debiopharm said that it will further cooperate with Biocartis to create companion diagnostics for therapies developed by Debiopharm in the areas of oncology and infectious diseases.

Under this agreemeent, Debiopharm will contribute biomarker expertise, while Biocartis will use its molecular diagnostic platform. In addition, Pietro Scalfaro, director of the diagnostics business unit at Debiopharm, has joined Biocartis' board of directors.

Other participants in Biocartis' financing round included previous investors Aescap, Biovest, Advent Venture Partners, several Biocartis employees, and Benaruca, the family investment vehicle of Biocartis' co-founder and CEO Rudi Pauwels.

In October, Biocartis also completed a Series A financing round, netting approximately €10 million to support early development of the new platform.

Biocartis, based in Laussane, has developed and in-licensed a series of technologies to build a broadly applicable diagnostics platform for low- to highly multiplexed detection, quantification, and amplification of molecular-based biomarkers, including nucleic acids, proteins, and small molecules, in areas such as oncology and infectious diseases.

Its technology portfolio includes digitally encoded microcarriers for capturing target biomolecules from samples; disposable microfluidic cartridges for sample input, processing, and analysis; compact instrumentation to use with the microcarriers and cartridges; and highly specific nucleic acid detection and isothermal amplification, according to its website.

In February, Biocartis added to the mix another piece of the puzzle when it acquired Philips' sample prep technology to complement some of the technology Biocartis was developing in house (PCR Insider, 2/11/10).

The company has thus far kept details of this technology under wraps, but Pauwels did tell PCR Insider at the time that it was a "bottom-up, complete new look at the process" of sample prep and would use "optical and other elements" that were inspired by consumer electronics innovations.

Under the terms of its deal with Philips, Biocartis was to assume control of relevant Philips patents and technology know-how and finance development and commercialization of the platform. An undisclosed number of existing Philips staff members were also to be transferred to Biocartis, which formed a Dutch subsidiary called Biocartis BV located at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, near Philips' R&D facilities.

Biocartis did not provide an update on the development timeline of the new molecular diagnostics platform.

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