Biotech Firm Raises $8.7 Million

Minneapolis-based biotech startup Vergent Bioscience Inc. last week announced it received $8.7 million in a round of financing led by Spring Mountain Capital of New York. Proceeds will allow the two-year-old company to fund preclinical and clinical activities on a probe designed to make it easier for physicians to see cancerous tissues during surgery. The company is hoping the Food and Drug Administration will regulate this product as a drug and allow human trials to begin within 18 months.

More than 15 million people in the United States have a history of cancer and there are 1.7 million new diagnosis each year and surgery is the standard first-line of treatment. Removing all of a cancerous tumor is critically important, and Vergent’s product is expected to help physicians detect an otherwise almost invisible border between malignant and healthy tissue. The same is true of tiny, “satellite tumors.” And it’s expected to be cheaper to purchase and easier to use—unlike rivals’ similar products, Vergent’s doesn’t require health care providers to buy custom imaging to us it.

Vergent is led by president and CEO John Santini, who previously co-founded and led MicroChips Biotech of Boston, which is developing implantable drug delivery devices; and before that, co-founded ApoGen Biotechnologies, a University of Minnesota spinoff developing a cancer therapy.