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Lab-On-Chip Maker Lands $9.2M in Early Round Venture Funds

Hepatocyte cells (Wikimedia Commons)

Hepatocyte cells (Wikimedia Commons)

Hurel Corporation, a developer of preclinical testing devices in New Brunswick, New Jersey, raised $9.2 million in its first round of venture fund raising after initial start-up. The round was organized by Spring Mountain Capital, a private equity investment management company in New York. No other participants in the round were disclosed.

Hurel Corp. designs and produces microfluidic — i.e., “lab-on-a-chip” — and artificial tissue testing devices for preclinical research, as a substitute for lab animals. The company says its devices simulate human metabolic functions and contain human cells that provide a more reliable model for early drug tests than traditional lab animals, usually rodents.

The microfluidic chips have compartments representing different organ functions or tissues, using cells drawn directly from humans or engineered to represent various conditions for the tests. The chips offer a culture medium through which drug candidates can pass, powered by a microfluidic pump. The devices also monitor and measure the physiological reactions of the cultures in the chips to the drug candidates being tested.

The company plans to use the funds raised in this round for the the commercial launch of its current products, and continued research and development of its technologies and future products. Hurel’s current products include hepatocyte (liver) tissue cell culture models and flow-based biochips that incorporate hepatocyte cell cultures.

Hurel Corp. says its chips are based on research conducted at and licensed from Cornell University. The company says the technology is covered by six patents either granted or pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The latest patent for a pharmacokinetic-based cell culture system was granted by the USPTO in October 2011 to Cornell engineering professor Michael Shuler and four other inventors, and assigned to Cornell’s technology transfer organization. Shuler serves on Hurel’s scientific advisory board.

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Hat tip: MedCity News

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