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IonGate secures E4.6 million, opens U.S. office
February 2008
by Chris Anderson  |  Email the author
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FRANKFURT, Germany—Transporter screening specialist IonGate GmbH announced in mid-January that it closed a E4.6 million third round of financing, funding the company says was used to open its first U.S. location in downtown Manhattan and which will also fund the ongoing development and commercialization of its SURFE2R workstation.For IonGate, the time to jump across the pond and establish a North American beachhead makes sense as it looks to broaden its scope for the SURFE2R technology, a label-free and cell-free method for the measurement of ion transporters and ion channels."We introduced the SURFE2R One in 2004 after taking a few years to develop the technology and some testing at customer sites," says Wolfgang Lerch, managing director of IonGate and president of the new U.S. operation. "But what we found was that while SURFE2R One was well-suited for the academic environment, pharmaceutical customers wanted higher throughput and so we developed the SURFE2R Workstation for that reason."Developed in 2006, the workstation provides users with an 8-channel system built on an automation platform from Tecan. The "medium-throughput" system's advantage, according to Lerch, is its label-free and cell-free process allows for the direct measurement of ion transporters and ion channels, "so you can run it late on a Friday afternoon and not have to do beforehand any cell cultures, and that makes it easier to work with," Lerch adds.As with all newer technology, establishing SURFE2R in the market will not be an easy task, but Lerch is confident the instrument will gain traction in the coming years. Currently, the new workstation—available in both one-channel and eight-channel configurations—has been sold to a European pharma company and IonGate has also identified two American partners, one of them a top-five pharma company. The company is working with these beta sites and anticipates presenting preliminary data at the upcoming SBS show in St. Louis in April.Meantime, the company is working to build the basic infrastructure for its U.S operation, named IonGate Biosciences Inc. "We will be hiring a technician to be able to provide service to our U.S customers in the second quarter and we also will add a sales person for the office sometime in the third quarter," Lerch says.The small staff should suffice for this year, as the company aims to tweak the product and create relevant data, all in anticipation of a wider and more aggressive move into the market in 2009. ddneditconnect: e020812

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