Featured companies: Akermin, Fluxion Biosciences, iCardiacTechnologies, Wellocities

UPDATED: Expanded items on Fluxion, Akermin, and Wellocities.

fluxion-logo.jpgFluxion Bio draws in $6.9M for cell-analysis tools — Fluxion Biosciences, a San Francisco developer of cellular-analysis tools, raised $6.9 million in a second funding round, VentureWire reports (subscription required). Investors included Kodiak Venture Partners, Claremont Creek Ventures and Life Science Angels.

Fluxion takes the idea of running chemical reactions against living cells — a key step in screening and analyzing the activity of drug candidates — to its logical conclusion with a system designed to measure biochemical changes involving, and sometimes within, a single cell. The company’s first microfluidic system is intended to allow researchers to study cells that adhere to surfaces, such as platelets that stick to arterial walls in the formation of plaque, and biofilms, which are drug-resistant sheets excreted by bacteria for protection.

Fluxion is also working on tools for studying electrochemical signaling within cells, which the company hopes to launch next year. The current financing may also make it possible for Fluxion to launch a third instrument that will image individual cells while they float in solution. Existing cell-imaging systems only work when cells are anchored in place.

The company could be profitable as early as 2010, Fluxion executives told VentureWire. It has raised a total of $7.4 million since its founding in 2005.

akermin-logo.jpgBioenzyme-catalyst co. Akermin raises $5M — Akermin, a St. Louis developer of new biocatalytic enzymes, raised $5 million in a second tranche of its first funding round. Investors included Prolog Ventures, OnPoint Technologies, Chrysalix Energy and the St. Louis Arch Angels.

Akermin works with catalytic enzymes — molecules that speed particular chemical reactions — made via biotechnology that could replace precious-metal catalysts now used in fuel cells. The company is developing prototype “biofuel cells” and thin-fuel cells the company refers to as “bio-batteries.” Enzymes should theoretically be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than metal catalysts.

Fuel cells, which could theoretically replace conventional batteries and engines in some applications, are one of those clean technologies that have been on the table for decades in one form or another. However, existing technologies generally aren’t considered cost- or energy-effective when compared to burning fossil fuels or using traditional batteries.

Akermin is part of a wave of startups working on overcoming the difficulties in making fuel cells. Another is Bloom Energy, a secretive Silicon Valley startup that has nevertheless received plenty of press.

Akermin’s technology is a polymer “stabilizer” for these enzymes that’s designed to immobilize them, stabilize them and enhance their operating lifetime. The company has raised a total of just under $8.5 million since its founding.

Online health service Wellocities draws $1M — Toronto’s Wellocities, a diabetes-focused health-information site, raised $1 million in seed funding to create a more general online health service for Canadians. XDL Capital Group provided the funding.

The company didn’t say much more about its online strategy or how it would differ from a host of new, mostly U.S.-based sites that offer everything from detailed health information to physician directories to patient communities. In diabetes, Wellocities provides an online community and ways for diabetics to track their progress in maintaining control of their weight and blood-sugar levels.


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