Life sciences briefing: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

TODAY’S HEADLINES:

atlas-genetics-logo-150px.gifMolecular-diagnostics maker Atlas Genetics gets £2.1M – Atlas Genetics, a Bath, U.K., developer of molecular diagnostics, raised £2.1 million ($4.1 million) in a funding round. The release is here (MS Word file). Investors included South West Ventures Fund, Finance South West Growth Fund, Braveheart Ventures, GEIF and private investors through the SWAIN business angel network.

Atlas is working on portable, rapid diagnostic systems that detect specific molecules of DNA and RNA from blood or urine in order to identify a variety of infectious pathogens. The company is currently exploring tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea, drug-resistant staphylococcus, group B streptococcus, meningitis and Norwalk virus, as well as an equine test for respiratory infections.

paloma-pharma-logo-150px.gifOne-man shop Paloma Pharma takes in $5M for eye, cancer drugs – Paloma Pharmaceuticals, a Jamaica Plain, Mass., biotech focused on treating vascular disease, raised $5 million in a second funding round, VentureWire reports. Angel investors provided the funding.

Paloma is developing a class of “improved” anti-angiogenic drugs that interfere with blood-vessel growth. Such drugs could potentially treat a range of diseases, including cancer, ocular disease such as macular degeneration, arthritis, fibrotic disease and others. The company expects to begin clinical trials in cancer and eye disease later this year.

The startup has never taken venture capital and has only one employee, CEO David Sherris. Paloma contracts out almost all of its functions, and Sherris retains a majority stake in his company, which he hopes to sell or take public by the end of this year.

optimata-logo-150px.gifIsrael’s Optimata receives $1.5M for simulations to rescue failed drugs – Optimata, an Israeli biotech that hopes to use computer simulations to “rescue” failed experimental drugs, raised $1.5 million in a funding round. Private investors from Europe provided the funding.

Optimata has developed a simulator it calls a “virtual patient” that can theoretically be used to model the way the human body responds to disease and drug treatments. The company’s intention is to use its model to revive drugs that failed in clinical trials by determining why things went wrong and ways to avoid prior pitfalls. Optimata says it is in the final stages of identifying discontinued cancer treatments that it wants to license and “repurpose.”