Zyomyx pulls in $12M to advance low-cost HIV Dx to finish line

Two major milestones will accelerate Zyomyx's push to get its point-of-care HIV diagnostic test out into the developing world. The company sealed a deal for $12 million in fresh financing and also agreed to make Mylan its distribution partner in a move that will help the test reach global, emerging markets.

Let's talk about that cash infusion, first. It's a first closing of a Series 2 preferred financing, and pharmaceutical giant Mylan ($MYL) led the round to the tune of about $6 million. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also in the mix, with the new round including a conversion of some existing funding from the global foundation.

With cash in hand, Zyomyx will use the money to help back its regulatory approval efforts and build up production capacity for its CD4 T-cell count test for HIV patients. Zyomyx touts the test as crucial to developing markets because it is both disposable and low-cost. It relies on the company's platform technology and is based on a disposable test cartridge that Zyomyx claims is as easy to read as a thermometer.

"The investment underscores the value of both our CD4 test and our proprietary technology," Zyomyx president and CEO Peter Wagner said in a statement.

And now, we address the distribution deal. Basically, it comes down to Mylan doing some serious multitasking. In addition to leading Zyomyx's new financing, Mylan sealed an exclusive distribution deal with Zyomyx. Pending approvals (which are expected "in the near term"), Mylan will distribute the test along with its generic antiretroviral drugs in areas including Africa, Asia (minus Japan and South Korea), Russia, the Middle East, South America, Central America and the Caribbean Islands.The company will also pay development and commercial milestones to Zyomyx, plus a share of the profits. Mylan has also pledged to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that it will sell the test at "a reasonable price" in countries with heavy numbers of HIV cases. Also noteworthy: This is Mylan's first entry into the diagnostics space.

Thus continues an ongoing trend at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other non-profits like it, of funding the development of low-cost diagnostics and devices that can advance healthcare in the developing world. Earlier in June, for example, the World Health Organization approved a new nonsurgical circumcision device developed by Israel's Circ MedTech, designed to help reduce HIV transmissions. Approval opens that device up to widespread backing from groups like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who will want to expand its rate of adoption in order to beat back the spread of HIV in Africa and elsewhere.

- read the financing announcement
- here's the release involving the distribution deal