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MaxCyte on Track to Raise $20M to Fund Cell Research

November 24, 2006

 

By Vandana Sinha Staff, Reporter

 

MaxCyte has rasied rearly $17 million in a second round of financing that could reach more than $20 million before it closes in six months.

 

With the new venture capital, MaxCyte's seven-year funding total is just shy of $25 million. Funds have come from a range of sources including angel investors, state coffers and institutional funds.

 

The Gaithersburg-based company's most recent funding "a $6.7 million chunk of the $17 million" come from new and existing investors.

 

New insestors include MASA Life Science Venture in Tokyo and Korea Integrated Services in Seoul, which join current investors Intersouth Partners, Harbert Venture Partners, Tall Oaks Capital, MdBio and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

 

MaxCyte spun out of Rockville-based EntreMed in 1999 as TheraMed. EntreMed still owns a piece of MaxCyte.

 

The company has concentrated on cell therapy "“ the ability to extract, change and engineer disease-treating cells from cell banks or patients themselves. It hopes eventually to market the process to drug companies.

 

MaxCyte officials say they want to be the Intel chip of drug development by providing the internal mechanism to produce cells that battle a variety of diseases.

 

This year alone, the company nearly doubled the number of partnerships it has with others in the industry. Now 11 biotech and pharmaceutical companies and six universities use MaxCyte's technology in their drug-making procedures.

 

Most recently, MaxCyte inked in August a deal with Medinet to licensing its method to use at the Japanese biotech for use in a new cancer treatment.

 

MaxCyte also is working with Northern Therapeutics, a Canadian affiliate of Silver Spring-based United Therapeutics, to test its technology with a gene-based treatment for pulmonary hypertension.

 

"Gene therapy for pulmonary hypertension is incredibly exciting and represents a truly new approach for treating, and even curing, the disease," says Andrew Fisher, senior vice president of investor relations and deputy general counsel for United Therapeutics, which bought the" U.S." rights to the treatment. "The technology is in the very early stages of development. It's one of those wait-and-see sorts of things."

 

By early 2008, MaxCyte also expects to complete Phase I and Phase II trials of a study at" Baylor" University" that incorporates its technology. In that study, new genetic data is essentially inserted in the cancer cells of leukemia patients to build up their immunity to the disease.

 

These partnerships have given MaxCyte its first dose of "substantial" revenue this year, not including the new outside financing, says President and CEO Douglas Doerfler, who would not disclose any financial results. "Our plan is that the cash takes us to breakeven status," he says, predicting that will occur during 2008. "We have substantially decreased our burn rate in the company."

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