24 Jan OpGen completes $5 million investment round
Madison, Wis. — OpGen, a company that makes optical tests capable of quickly finding genetic differences between individuals, has completed the final stage of its $5 million investment round.
OpGen, a two-year-old company based on University of Wisconsin-Madison technology, already sells its testing services to a variety of clients. The latest investment will be split between marketing that service and new developments such as packaged instruments that customers could use to perform the tests themselves, said CEO Joe Shaw.
“The optical map itself, without reference to [gene] sequencing, can identify… individual organisms,” Shaw said. “I don’t mean to say humans, I mean to say you or me, much faster than traditional sequencing can.”
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Optical mapping is also better at finding missing or extra DNA, he said, while most existing methods focus on differences in analogous genes between organisms.
That could make it a piece of the puzzle that is personalized medicine, helping choose medicines that are more appropriate for different people based on their genes.
OpGen’s tests could have been useful in studying the side effects of Vioxx, a painkiller that was recalled after studies suggested it could increase the risk of heart attacks in some people, said Dan Broderick, a managing director of investment firm Mason Wells who is on OpGen’s board.
“Had they used our technology in their clinical trial, we might have been able to predict what patients were likely to have heart problems. Maybe,” Broderick said.
To complete the round, OpGen received approximately the final third of the $5 million, Broderick said.
Other investors included Stonehenge Capital, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
Broderick said that Shaw, who joined the company as CEO last November, has kept its direction but opened up new opportunities and focus.
As a research-based company develops, Shaw said, “You’d better bring in some people from the commercial world who know what they’re doing… that’s what a CEO should do.”
Shaw is also looking toward more sources of institutional funding, but said by the time the company needed any, it would have fully demonstrated its commercial potential.