Funding: The company has received $75,000 from the Maryland Technology Development Corp., $50,000 from the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, an $800,000 National Institutes of Health Challenge Grant and $150,000 from angel investors.
Big idea: BioFactura is a biopharmaceutical development company that began as a contract services company. The company's contract services include cell-line development, process development and actual manufacturing for biotechnology companies and research institutions, said Alex DeSeabra, BioFactura's president. "If a scientist has a gene and needs to make a lot more of that product and turn it around and get it in clinical trials, you come talk to us." BioFactura also creates technology platform tools that it markets to other biotechnology companies. "We're working on a new cell line that will produce monoclonal antibodies . . . closer to what an antibody actually looks like," DeSeabra said. Antibodies are used in treating everything from cancer to arthritis. BioFactura is also working with other organizations to develop its own biopharmaceuticals, including a smallpox therapeutic, a diagnostic field kit for Lassa fever, and an antifungal therapeutic for patients whose immune systems are compromised. DeSeabra estimates that about 50 percent of his company's business is in contract services, 20 percent is in developing technology platform tools, and the remainder is in the development of its own biopharmaceuticals. "We're hoping to make it all biopharmaceuticals," he said.
Where the idea was hatched: DeSeabra and three of his associates are former employees of Human Genome Sciences Inc. of Rockville. BioFactura was born out of his interest in contract manufacturing and his belief that there would be a big need for it, he said. The firm's shift toward developing its own biopharmaceuticals was driven by its desire for venture capital. When BioFactura solicited investments from venture capital firms, it found funders weren't looking for a services company, DeSeabra said.
Big-name customers: Tulane University of New Orleans; Sequella Inc. of Rockville; BioPhyZica Inc. of Ithaca, N.Y. The company also works with the Army at Fort Detrick.
Founded: June of 2003
Who's in charge: DeSeabra; Alex Matschiner, chief operating officer; Darryl Sampey, chief science officer; Luis Branco, vice president of research.
Web site: www.biofactura.com
What the name means: "One of my colleagues came up with it," DeSeabra said. "It's a fusion of the prefix for life, 'bio,' and the suffix for manufacturing, 'factura.'"
Where will you be in five years?: "I see the company hopefully finally selling our first smallpox therapeutic to the government," DeSeabra said. "I hopefully see companies licensing out our tools and us generating revenue from the licenses and royalty payments. I see us still in Maryland. I see us being a very successful biotech company with more revenue and more employees and successfully striking deals with biopharmaceutical companies."
-- Andrea Caumont