HELSINKI, FINLAND, 18 April 2012: Plexpress has announced follow-on funding of up to $2.3M to commercialise its novel TRAC (Transcript Analysis with the aid of Affinity Capture) platform for high-content gene expression analysis. The investment has been secured to commercialise the technology internationally, build up the ADMET screening service and develop TRAC specifically within the oncology sector. Existing investors – Conor Technology Fund, VTT Ventures, Aloitusrahasto Vera and the Helsinki University Fund – as well as Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, have invested $1.4M initially with further milestone payments of up to $900k.
As the potential applications and opportunities in genomic research continue to grow, the TRAC system is poised to provide the ideal method for the increased throughput and multiplex screening that the development of new therapies and diagnostics requires. With TRAC, the expression of up to 30 genes can be routinely quantified in each plate well (30-plex), while thousands of samples can be processed quickly, easily and reproducibly.
The TRAC technology has been refined and validated over 10 years of development, initially at the Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT, and subsequently at Plexpress, with over 50 separate projects completed successfully. By avoiding the need for RNA extraction, cDNA conversion and amplification, the TRAC protocol takes only four hours to complete and RNA degradation is significantly reduced. This makes it fast, simple and cost-effective to implement, while lowering error rates and maximising accuracy.
“This funding will enable Plexpress to pursue high value market opportunities, such as companion diagnostics and ADMET. TRAC provides significant benefits over existing technologies such as qPCR and microarrays, which do not offer either the throughput or the multiplexing that many genomics researchers require. Our early investors recognised these opportunities and have underlined their belief in TRAC with this continuing funding”, said Plexpress CEO, and leading expert in TRAC technology, Dr Jari Rautio. Commenting on the renewed funding, MoB Managing Partner, Jari Mieskonen, of Conor Venture Partners said: “We are very happy that all current investors continued to support Plexpress in this follow-on investment round. The added involvement of Tekes gives us increased leverage for commercializing the TRAC technology and with the extremely positive feedback from key customers we foresee a fast market roll-out.”
For more information about TRAC, please visit the Plexpress website at www.plexpress.com .
Plexpress was established as a spinoff from the Finnish Technology Research Center VTT in 2007. Including R&D at VTT, the company’s TRAC technology has been developed continuously for nearly 10 years and it has been documented in over 15 publications. The technology was originally developed for demanding bioprocess applications, which required a very robust solution for gene expression analysis. Since starting operations in 2008, the company has carried out over 50 projects using the TRAC technology in the fields of pharmaceutical development and academic research.