Fledgling local biotech firm looks to raise $2M

Meru Biotechnologies was founded about six months ago and is based out of the VA Bio+Tech Park downtown. (Mike Platania)

A newcomer to the VA Bio+Tech Park downtown is looking to get going with seven figures of startup funding.

Meru Biotechnologies, which was founded in March, has raised $1 million in venture capital, with plans to raise an additional million, per SEC documents.

Meru is developing a device that uses technology licensed from a scientist from Vanderbilt University to analyze the ways molecules bind to each other. It’s based in the Bio+Tech Park at 800 E. Leigh St.

CEO Dan Rodenhaver said Meru’s product will be used for research and offered an example of how it works.

“If you take a drug, that drug is a molecule and it goes in and hits a pain receptor or a disease, that’s it binding to another molecule,” he said.

“Well, that (binding) has to be researched, and for an average cancer drug that’s on average $1.4 billion and 10 years before you’re allowed to take it. We found a much more efficient and sensitive way to look at those things.”

Rodenhaver, who was a managing director at The Fahrenheit Group prior to co-founding Meru, said the company’s prototype device is about the size of a desktop computer and that he’d like to see it be approved for lab use by this time next year.

Named for Meru Peak, a mountain in northern India, the company’s goal is to eventually get its device FDA-approved for use in diagnosing patients. Meru’s other two co-founders are based in San Diego.

Meru opened the debt raise in mid-August, and Rodenhaver said he couldn’t comment on its plan for the raise or too much about the company’s market strategies.

“We’re brand new and we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.

Meru is at least the second health care tech company based in the Bio+Tech Park to reel in investor funding in the last year. Last summer, GPB Scientific, which makes a device that separates and extracts specific cells from blood, opened a $10 million raise.

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Congrats & Best wishes Dan! Tedd Smith