Fluxion Raises $6.85M For Drug Discovery Tools
Fluxion LogoFluxion Biosciences Inc., which makes cellular-analysis tools for drug discovery, has raised a $6.85 million second round to launch an ion-channel research tool.

New investor Kodiak Venture Partners led the round and was joined by new investor Claremont Creek Ventures. Previous backer Life Science Angels also participated. The San Francisco company has raised a total of $7.35 million since forming in 2005, said Chief Executive Jeff Jensen. Its valuation is undisclosed.

Kodiak, known as a technology investor, recently has been searching for opportunities to invest at the crossroads of IT and health care. In February it announced that biotechnology entrepreneur Andrey Zarur, founder and former CEO of BioProcessors Corp., had joined the firm as a general partner.

Zarur said single-cell assays would be vital to the development of new therapeutics, and that he had been scanning the market for a technology of Fluxion's type.

Fluxion's technology could help pharmaceutical companies fulfill their desire to expand the use of cellular assays. While biochemical tests are rapid and low-cost, molecular interactions occurring in a test tube aren't as relevant as interactions taking place in actual cells. With instruments designed to make cellular assays more productive and less expensive, Fluxion aims to make it practical for pharmaceutical companies to use these tests more widely.

This summer it introduced its first product, the BioFlux system, for studying cell adhesion and biofilms. A researcher could use the system to spot drug targets involved in the adhesion of platelets to artery walls and to one another, for example, and to identify compounds that interact with those molecules.

BioFlux also can help scientists find ways to fight biofilms, the drug-resistant films excreted by bacteria. Stanford University, Virginia Tech, Kimberly Clark Corp. and other institutions use BioFlux, said Jensen, though he declined to disclose the company's sales.

Early next year the company plans to launch its IonFlux system for cellular electrophysiology, a tool for ion-channel target discovery and drug screening. The new financing may also be enough to get a third device on the market: the CytoFlux imaging cytometer. Today, it's difficult to image and test drugs on blood cells and others cells that are floating in solution instead of anchored to some kind of structure. CytoFlux, which could be ready for launch by mid-2009, will be particularly useful in this regard, Jensen said.

Competitors include MDS Inc., which in March acquired Molecular Devices Corp., whose products include cellular-analysis instruments. But Jensen said Fluxion's tools will enable higher-throughput and lower-cost experiments than competing products.

With three marketed devices, Fluxion could turn profitable in early 2010, Jensen said. Kodiak's Zarur and Claremont Managing Director John Steuart have joined the board of Fluxion, which has seven employees.