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By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – Nabsys Inc., a life sciences company focused on the creation of a single-molecule platform for genomic analysis, has closed a $20 million Series D financing round, the company announced Wednesday.
The financing round was led by new investor Bay City Capital. Existing investors, including Point Judith Capital and Stata Venture Partners, also contributed to the round.
The $20 million round brings the company’s total venture capital to more than $41 million, Dr. Barrett Bready, Nabsys president and CEO, told Providence Business News.
The company plans to use the funding to support the commercial launch of its semiconductor-based single-molecule platform for genomic analysis. “This technology is complementary to, rather than competitive with, existing DNA sequencing technology,” said Bready.
“What we do is we’re making the technology that other people will use,” said Bready, adding that his company is providing the tools for researchers, investigators and eventually mobile diagnostics companies to use to get the genetic information they need.
In layman’s terms, Nabsys flows DNA through computer chips to deliver DNA sequencing electronically, versus optically, which is the industry standard.
On a machine significantly smaller than comparable systems, the Nabsys technology also allows scientists to look at molecules that are nearly 1,000 times longer than molecules routinely sequenced by standard leading technologies. The system also works 10,000 times faster than other technologies, and users can see information being gathered in real time, said Bready.
With “most sequencing technologies you load the DNA and a week later you get your answer. Here, you see each molecule as it goes through,” he said, adding that the first results start coming back in about five minutes.
Bay City Capital, which led the finance round, is no stranger to the life sciences sector. Prior to investing in Nabsys, the group invested in Iontorrent, a company Bready called “the most successful investment in the DNA sequencing space.” Iontorrent’s technology, while also semi-conductor based, cannot analyze single molecules, but can only look at collections.
“[Bay City Capital] have that experience,” said Bready. “They also have a deep understanding of the value of this technology on the clinical side for diagnostic applications.”
The technology stands to be particularly useful in oncology and cancer research. “We’ve done a good job treating infectious diseases but not systemic diseases like cancer,” said Bready, adding that this is due to the fact that cancer DNA is much closer to human DNA than the DNA of bacteria is.
One of the ultimate goals of the technology is to give scientists and clinicians the “same level of confidence and dominance over cancer that we now enjoy over infectious diseases,” said Bready.
“When you get a bacterial infection, you’re not really concerned you’re going to die … whereas when you get diagnosed with cancer you’re really afraid you’re going to die,” he said, adding that he hopes the Nabsys technology will help scientists eliminate that fear.
Providence-based Nabsys, which was founded by Bready in 2007 from two other companies, has 50 employees. Bready was named Providence Business News’ 2011 Innovator of the Year.