MARLBOROUGH, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Signaling its intent to capitalize on the opportunity for its Platelet PGD® test for the detection of bacteria in platelets, Verax Biomedical announced today that it has completed a $12 million financing that will position the company for aggressive growth in 2014. This financing will also accelerate the completion of and clinical studies for an improved version of its bacterial contamination test. Both products are designed to address a significant and potentially lethal bacterial contamination risk in transfused platelets.
The additional funding will position the company to meet market demand created by increased focus by regulators, blood bankers and hospitals on the risk of bacterial contamination in platelets, the anticipated release of the company’s second product, an improved version of its Platelet PDG® test, and further expansion in overseas markets. The funding round was led by the company’s current venture capital investors. It will also fuel an expansion of the company’s research & development efforts already under way with the recent move of their corporate headquarters and laboratories to a larger facility in Marlborough, Mass.
“We are very grateful for the on-going support of our current investors. This additional financing will permit Verax to aggressively capitalize on the opportunity present with our existing product and it sets the stage for the introduction of our improved test that will offer significant advances in performance and ease of use,” said James Lousararian, Chief Executive Officer at Verax Biomedical.
The Platelet PGD® Test was developed by Verax Biomedical of Marlborough, Mass. Published studies demonstrate that bacterial contamination in platelets is the greatest infectious threat to transfusion safety and that the Verax test offers a significant advance in patient safety when used to address that risk. Over 100 hospitals in the U.S. and Europe, particularly those that specialize in treating cancer, have already adopted the Verax Platelet PGD® Test as a safety measure for their platelet inventory.
Blood centers perform culture tests for bacteria in apheresis platelets 24 hours after donation, analyze results and dispose of contaminated units. But platelets have a five-day shelf life and bacteria levels just 24 hours after donation may be too low for detection by culture. Studies show that early culture testing misses an estimated three of every four bacterially contaminated units, which are then released to hospitals for transfusion.
The Verax Platelet PGD® test is a rapid immunoassay that detects antigens present on the surface of bacteria. It is used at the point of care, usually a hospital transfusion service laboratory, within 24-hours of transfusion when bacteria, if present, will be at higher levels and easier to detect. The test was cleared by U.S. regulators in 2007 for detecting bacterial contamination in leukoreduced apheresis platelets and in 2009 for use with whole-blood derived platelets. In 2011, the FDA cleared the test as a “Safety Measure” for leukoreduced apheresis platelets. All other bacterial contamination tests for platelets currently cleared by the FDA are cleared only as Quality Control tests.
In the United States, more than 85 percent of platelets transfused are collected via apheresis, an automated process by which one or more doses of platelets are collected from a single donor. The remaining platelets used for transfusion are primarily collected from whole blood donations, a manual process in which a partial platelet unit is collected (along with other blood components) and pooled from four to six different donors to generate a therapeutic platelet dose.
Verax Biomedical Incorporated. is a developer of rapid tests for detecting bacterial contaminants in blood cells and tissue. The privately held company was founded in 1999. Its headquarters and laboratory facilities are located in Marlborough, Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.veraxbiomedical.com.