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Rigel Inc. Completes First Financing; Broad-based Technology Couples Genomics with Rapid Drug Discovery
Sunnyvale, C.A.--(BW Healthwire) - March 06, 1997
Executives at Rigel Inc. today announced the successful closure of the company's first financing round which raised $6 million from private investors including Alta Partners, San Francisco and Lombard Odier, Zurich.
Rigel, founded in 1996, utilizes proprietary technology capable of creating intracellular combinatorial libraries designed to simultaneously identify and validate novel pharmaceutical targets. This approach is likely to substantially accelerate new drug development.
One of Rigel's co-founders, Garry Nolan, Ph.D., of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology at Stanford University, pioneered the company's technology which can produce tens of millions of designer retroviruses, each carrying instructions for host (mammalian) cells to synthesize individual novel molecules.
These molecules can be directed to different cellular compartments, such as the nucleus or cell membrane, to elicit specific cellular responses. The high-throughput cellular-based assays developed by Rigel may screen hundreds of millions of unique compounds, one to a cell, in as little as a day.
Rigel's one-compound in one-diseased cell approach to screening rapidly identifies which compounds elicit desired, specific effects, while at the same time yielding a validated target. Rigel's "Massive Parallel Screening"(MPS) approach couples, in a single step, combinatorial chemistry with genomics based on physiological properties of the cell and eliminates vast quantities of extraneous data typically resulting from screening assays.
James Gower, President, CEO and co-founder of Rigel, said, "The company is off to a good start. We've got good patent positions on our technology, solid funding sources and laboratories up and running on our first projects in the fields of cancer and immune mediated diseases."
In addition to Nolan and Gower, former CEO of Tularik and senior vice president of Genentech, Rigel's co-founders include: Donald Payan, M.D., Rigel's Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Research, who is a former researcher and faculty member in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UCSF, founder and chief scientific officer of Khepri Pharmaceuticals and vice president of Arris Pharmaceutical; and Thomas Raffin, M.D., professor and chief of pulmonary medicine and co-director of the Biomedical Ethics Center at Stanford University.
Rigel, located in Sunnyvale, plans to work with a number of pharmaceutical partners on projects aimed at a broad range of human diseases.