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Posted: March 21, 2008
Scripps Nanotechnology Imaging Spin-Off Receives $1.5 Million Funding from Merck
(Nanowerk News) In November 2007, NanoImaging Services, Inc. has commenced operation of a new business providing high-resolution, three-dimensional transmission electron microscope (TEM) imaging services to manufacturers of large molecule biopharmaceuticals. The service provides fast, accurate structural characterization and validation of new drug compounds, targets and assays; promising improved speed and reduced risk at all phases of the drug development process, from discovery and characterization through approval and manufacturing.
NanoImaging Services was founded by researchers from The Scripps Research Institute with financial support from FEI Company (Nasdaq: FEIC), a leading manufacturer of TEMs and other tools for nanotechnology. The start-up has also benefited significantly from early contracts with Merck & Co., one of the world's largest pharmaceutical manufacturers, including a project to characterize virus-like particles of human papilloma virus in support of the development of Merck's recently-introduced Gardasil® vaccine.
NanoImaging offers a variety of services, from visual inspection and statistical characterization to sophisticated 3D reconstruction and antibody/labeling experiments, using TEM procedures that range from conventional negative staining to advanced cryo techniques with automated image acquisition and analysis. In the most advanced applications, samples in physiologic solution are instantly frozen in vitreous ice to preserve delicate biological structures in their native hydrated state. Thousands of images, automatically acquired with low dose techniques, are sorted and averaged together to create high-contrast, high-resolution (approaching 1nm), low-noise images, and statistically valid sampling devoid of operator bias. A secure web-based interface allows clients to view images and direct experiments remotely, in real time. Results, along with all meta data, are stored in a relational database, preserving the provenance of all images for documentary purposes and providing a basis for long-term studies.
At the end of February 2008, NanoImaging Services, Inc. announced that it has completed a round of financing led by Merck Capital Ventures, LLC. The $1.5 million investment will be used to expand the company’s service laboratory.
About NanoImaging Services
NanoImaging Services, Inc. provides transmission electron microscope imaging services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and nanotechnology industries, and specializes in the characterization of large biological molecules used in biopharmaceuticals such as vaccines, antibodies, cytokines, hormones and gene therapies. In contrast to conventional (small molecule) drugs, biopharmaceuticals are typically protein-based and manufactured in controlled, modified, biological systems. Their complexity and similarity to naturally occurring compounds makes a detailed understanding of their structure, and its relationship to their safety and efficacy, essential in their development and approval. Biopharmaceuticals represent an important and rapidly-growing segment of the pharmaceutical industry. For more information, visit www.nanoimagingservices.com.
About Merck Capital Ventures
Merck Capital Ventures (MCV) is a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. MCV seeks to invest capital in emerging businesses in areas related to the commercialization, distribution and delivery of pharmaceuticals and related health care services. The focus of MCV is to invest in technologies that accelerate innovation related to the pharmaceutical business and other sectors of health care delivery.