Busy month for IntegenX

Microsample prep company closes $15.6M financing round, acquires GenVault and signs two deals to accelerate commercialization of DNA profiling platform

March 8, 2011
Jeffrey Bouley
PLEASANTON, Calif.—February proved to be a busy month formicrosample prep company IntegenX Inc. as it seeks to secure a leading positionin sample preparation for genetic analysis. Within the first few days of themonth, IntegenX announced the completion of a transaction to acquiresubstantially all the stock of GenVault Corp. and the closing of a $15.6 millionSeries B round of financing led by life science venture capital firm DomainAssociates. Then in two separate late-February announcements, IntegenX let theworld know it signed deals with Caliper Life Sciences and SoftGenetics to buildout the capabilities of its DNA profiling platform.
 
The addition of GenVault's products to the IntegenXportfolio allows IntegenX to offer products that will make transportation andstorage of user samples easier without needing refrigeration and withoutdegradation, says Dr. Stevan Jovanovich, president and CEO of IntegenX, and theGenTegra products are now a part of IntegenX's "sample-to-answer" processcontrol. This will, he asserts, increase the quality and value of data producedby IntegenX's integrated sample preparation systems, as well as help IntegenXposition itself farther upstream in the sequencing market.
 
"As more and more genetic samples are stored and preparedfor analysis, the potential for losing sample integrity while waiting forchemistry preparation increases," Jovanovich notes. "This affects data qualityand is therefore an acute issue for nucleic acid sample preparation. TheGenVault products address this problem successfully by stabilizing both RNA andDNA for next-generation sequencing, genotyping, forensic analysis and othergenomic applications."
 
 
As for the Series B capital influx, Jovanovich says IntegenXwill fund the commercialization of the Apollo 324 System for next-generationsequencing library preparation, the development of the Apollo 200 RapidHITSystem for DNA-based human identification and global marketing of the GenTegraproduct line.
 
 
The Domain Associates-led financing included participationfrom previous investors In-Q-Tel and RONAholdings LLC, and also brings inparticipation from GenVault investors QuestMark Partners, Cross Creek Partnersand Greenspring Associates, thanks to the acquisition.
 
"The management team at IntegenX has brought more than 40products to market over the past 20 years at Applied Biosystems, MolecularDynamics, Amersham and other successful companies," says Dr. Jim Blair,founding partner at Domain Associates. "By focusing on system integration andsample preparation, IntegenX has built a valuable portfolio of products forsequencing and human identification that are needed in the market right now."
 
 
And that portfolio-boosting talk segues right into the twolate-February deals struck by IntegenX.
 
 
In one of those deals, IntegenX gains access to Caliper'smicrofluidics patent portfolio, and Jovanovich intends to leverage Caliper'stechnology and other intellectual property to boost efforts in commercializingthe Apollo 200 system. According to IntegenX, profiles generated on the systemcan be used to match existing DNA records in various databases or even expand them.
 
Jovanovic says the agreement with Caliper "supports oursample-to-answer strategy and enables us to build upon IntegenX's corestrengths in product development and integration."
 
In the second deal announced in late February, SoftGeneticswill provide GeneMarker HID forensics software to IntegenX to enhance dataanalysis features in the Apollo 200 system, allowing for the generation ofunique human DNA profiles in standardized formats.
 
 
While these four milestones are all clustered together in asingle month, IntegenX hasn't been dormant up to this point.
 
 
In March 2010, the company—formerly known as MicrochipBiotechnologies—changed to the IntegenX moniker to better acknowledge thecompany's focus on integrating sample preparation and analysis technologiesinto complete products "that address generic problems shared by life scienceand biotechnology research laboratories worldwide," according to the company.
 
 
Jovanovic believes his company's technology will eliminatethe most acute pain points affecting widely adopted laboratory workflows, inpart with the help of Integenx's MOVe valves and integration of fragmentedmetering, mixing and dispensing of microliter volumes, which are part of theApollo system.
 
 
"Many scientists no longer have the time or the skill tointegrate reagent kits, columns, beads, mixers, detectors, incompatibleprotocols and instruments that don't communicate with each other," Jovanovichsaid at the time. "We automate the most fragmented workflow elements intoautomated systems that provide predictable, high quality molecular biologyoutput. For the lab worker, researcher, forensic scientist or lab clinician,IntegenX makes the usage of DNA and RNA accessible to staff who do not have tobecome technology specialists in sample preparation."
 
The name change was followed by the opening of a newheadquarters and manufacturing facility roughly a month later because thecompany had outgrown its location in nearby Dublin, Calif. "This new locationprovides a more collaborative environment where we can discuss ideas easily andsolve problems quickly, and the space and facilities we need to ramp upoperations," Jovanovich said at the time.
 


That, in turn, was followed some months later with theOctober 2010 announcement that the company was awarded a contract worth as muchas $14.8 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop an integratedsample-to-sequence system that could rapidly detect and identify geneticallyengineered, medically relevant and emerging pathogens from environmentalsamples. After that came a November 2010 announcement that IntegenX receivedfour grants totaling $976,000 under the Qualifying Therapeutic DiscoveryProject Program (QTDP).
 
 
"We are pleased to receive federal recognition that ourplatforms have the potential for impacting the development of therapeutics,molecular diagnostics, and discovery of genetic markers that will improveoutcomes for patients," Jovanovich says.
 
 
The QTDP is provided under Section 48D of the InternalRevenue Code, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable HealthCare Act of 2010. Qualifying projects had to show potential to produce newtherapies, reduce long-term healthcare costs, or significantly advance the goalof curing cancer within the next 30 years. Preference was given to projectsthat showed the greatest potential to create and sustain high-quality,high-paying jobs in the U.S. and advance the country's competitiveness in thefields of life, biological and medical sciences.
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