By Julia Karow
This article was originally published Nov. 12.
Microchip Biotechnologies said last week that it has raised $18.1 million in a Series B financing round.
The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company said it plans to use the funding to commercialize its Apollo 100 system, an automated microfluidics sample-preparation system for Sanger sequencing, and to develop the Apollo platform for the next-generation sequencing markets as well as for DNA-based human identification and forensics.
The financing round was led by Domain Associates; the other new investors are Samsung Ventures, Western Technology Investment, and individual investors. In addition, the company's previous investors, Rona Syndicates and In-Q-Tel, also participated in the round.
The Apollo 100, the company's first product, automates the setup, running, and sample cleanup of Sanger sequencing reactions and promises to reduce reagent costs and manual labor required (see In Sequence 9/22/2008). It is designed to process two 96-well microtiter plates per day, or up to 50,000 samples per year.
Last year, MBI signed up its first early-access customer for instrument — the Canadian Center for DNA Barcoding at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario at the University of Guelph. At the time, the company said it was aiming to add a handful more early-access sites prior to fully commercializing the instrument at the end of 2008.
In parallel, MBI has also been working on a microfluidic-based sample-prep system for next-generation sequencing, in collaboration with Mostafa Ronaghi at the Stanford University Genome Technology Center, who has since moved to Illumina. The system automates the emulsion PCR and follow-up steps required, for example, by the 454 and SOLiD sequencing systems (see In Sequence 3/4/2008).
In 2004, the company also won a $6.1 million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute's advanced sequencing technology program to develop a "Microbead Integrated DNA Sequencer" that would miniaturize all aspects of the capillary array-based Sanger sequencing process.