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Roka Bioscience Secures $47.5M Financing to Commercialize Food Testing Platform

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Roka Bioscience said Friday that it has secured $47.5 million in Series D financing to support the commercialization of its molecular food safety testing platform.

Roka said that it closed on $27.5 million of the Series D round in December and expects to close on the remaining $20 million later this year. Upon completion of the Series D round, the company will have raised $104.7 million since its formation in September 2009.

Roka, which is headquartered in Warren, NJ, but has manufacturing facilities in San Diego, spun out of Gen-Probe to develop molecular assays for biopharmaceutical production, water and food safety testing, and other industrial applications.

The company has exclusive licensing rights to various Gen-Probe nucleic acid-based tests and instrumentation for use in industrial applications. Examples of these technologies include ribosomal RNA-targeting nucleic acid probe assays; transcription-mediated amplification; hybridization protection assays; and target capture sample prep technology.

In July, after Roka closed a $20 million Series C financing round, President and CEO Paul Thomas told PCR Insider that the company was exploring several industrial markets but would initially focus on food safety testing. To that end, the company had begun developing several molecular assays for use on an unnamed instrument platform based on Gen-Probe's fully automated Panther system (PCR Insider, 7/28/11).

This week, the company disclosed the name of its platform — the Atlas System — and said that it would develop an initial test menu for it that includes assays for Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. According to the company, the instrument uses a "simple three-step procedure — enrich, transfer, automate — and can process more than 300 samples in eight hours."

Roka said that it is also currently developing other molecular food pathogen assays for the Atlas System.

New investor Aisling Capital participated in the financing along with existing investors OrbiMed Advisors, New Enterprise Associates, and TPG Biotech. In conjunction with the financing, Josh Bilenker, partner at Aisling Capital, will join Roka's board, the company said.

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