By Julia Karow
This article, originally published March 17, has been updated with comments by the company's CSO at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference last month.
BioNanomatrix has raised $23.3 million in a Series B round of equity financing, the company said last week.
Domain Associates led the round, joined by existing investors Battelle Ventures, Innovation Valley Partners, and KT Venture Group, as well as new investor Gund Investment.
BioNanomatrix, a Princeton University spinout based in Philadelphia, is in the midst of commercializing its first instrument — a single-molecule imaging and analysis platform called the NanoAnalyzer 1000 that allows users to study long single molecules of DNA in nanochannels.
Since it formally launched the platform last November (IS 11/2/2010), BioNanomatrix has placed several systems with early-access users, according to CEO Erik Holmlin, who recently joined the firm from GenVault.
The new funding will enable the company to open a West Coast office that will provide "additional business opportunities" and allow it to "recruit from a talent base that has established this industry," said Brian Halak, a partner with Domain Associates, in a statement. In line with the investment, Halak has joined the company's board of directors.
The additional financing builds on a $5.1 million Series A round that BioNanomatrix raised three years ago (IS 4/8/2008), led by Battelle Ventures.
The NanoAnalyzer is based on nanochannel technology developed by Han Cao and colleagues at Princeton University. Cao is a company founder and its chief scientific officer.
Individual linear DNA fragments, typically ranging in size between 50 kilobases and several hundred kilobases, are trapped inside the nanochannels of an array, imaged, and released before the next DNA fragments flow in. The DNA backbone is labeled and carries short, sequence-specific labels, usually spaced several thousand bases apart (IS 10/20/2009).
Last month at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference in Marco Island, Fla., Cao said that each chip for the commercial instrument consists of three devices, which each carry 4,000 channels. The channels are 100 nanometers wide and the total channel length per chip is about 5.5 meters.
Each image scan covers 108 fields of view, and between 50 and 500 megabases of DNA are covered per 5-minute scan, meaning up to several gigabases of DNA are imaged per hour.
The NanoAnalyzer 1000 is a "benchtop, user-friendly instrument," he said, which can be installed in a single day and has "no special needs."
Cao mentioned various applications for the technology, among them long-range assembly and assembly validation, de novo scaffolding and finishing, and structural variation analysis.
It can be used, for example, to map human BACs to the genome based on the pattern of labels, to identify deletions between two microbial strains, to assess the level of DNA damage, or to validate complex structural variations in cancer.
He said that the company currently has four beta-testing sites, which it is currently not revealing. Pricing information for the NanoAnalyzer 1000 is not yet available.
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