Featured companies: Altair Therapeutics, ICyt Visionary Biosciences, Linkage Biosciences, Mendel Biotechnology, Rules-Based Medicine

Mendel Biotechnology raises funds for cellulosic-energy production — Hayward, Calif.-based Mendel Biotechnology, a biotech developing new varieties of switchgrass, Miscanthus and poplar for use as biofuels, raised an undisclosed sum in a new funding round. The company first drew funding from several investment firms, including ZBI Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group and CFM, and also raised additional cash from its partner Monsanto, which was already an equity investor in the company.

Releases for the two fundings are here and here, although both are pretty cryptic. The funding will not only assist in the development of seeds and feedstock for the cellulosic biofuel industry, but will also help Mendel further develop its core technology for regulating genes that affect plant growth.

linkage-biosciences-logo.jpgLinkage Biosciences draws $1M to streamline genetic testing — San Francisco’s Linkage Biosciences raised approximately $1 million in a seed funding round. Greenhouse Capital Partners provided the cash. Linkage isn’t describing its business in detail, but says it is at work on new clinical diagnostic tests for stem-cell and organ transplantation that should speed up complex genetic testing.

rbm-logo.jpgRules-Based Medicine raises $25M for diagnostics, pays half that to settle lawsuit — Rules-Based Medicine, an Austin, Tex., biotech focused on diagnostics that utilize new “biomarkers” that can be detected in blood samples, raised $25 million in a first financing round. Investors included Equity Group Investments, an investment fund founded by Sam Zell; Cross Creek Capital, the private equity affiliate of Wasatch Advisors; and Stephens Capital Partners.

The company, however, will immediately pay half that sum, $12.5 million, back to its former parent company, Luminex, from which RBM spun out in 2002. The two companies have fought out a licensing dispute in court since 2005; that lawsuit will now be dismissed.

RBM makes diagnostics that can test for hundreds of biomarkers at once in a single drop of blood. The idea is to develop tests that will show whether a drug candidate is likely to have bad side effects down th road. Our earlier coverage of the company is here and here.

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