San Diego’s Celula Gets $15M for Molecular Diagnostics

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Clarification 5/19/10 11:00 am. See below.] Celula, a molecular diagnostic startup founded in San Diego five years ago, has raised $15 million in a secondary round of venture funding led by Palo Alto, CA-based Skyline Ventures, according to a VentureWire report today.

Celula’s top executives did not return a call this afternoon seeking to confirm the report, although Skyline lists Celula as a portfolio company, as do two other new investors, CHL Medical Partners of Stamford, CT, and Kaiser Permanente Ventures of Oakland, CA. Previous investors Enterprise Partners Venture Capital of San Diego and Versant Ventures, which has offices in the Bay Area and Newport Beach, CA, also participated in the Series B round, according to VentureWire. A previous investor, Arch Venture Partners, was not identified among the current investors.

[Updated 5/19/10 11:00 am] Celula CEO John Osth tells me by e-mail today this is the same round that I noted two months ago (but did not describe in any detail) as part of a rundown of the biggest venture deals in San Diego during the first quarter of 2010.

Celula was founded in May 2005 (happy fifth anniversary), according to New York-based CB Insights, but has maintained a low profile. The company’s website says Celula develops innovative instruments for personalized diagnostics that use advanced micro-fluidics and other technologies. Skyline venture offers what may be a more succinct description, saying, “Celula is developing a prenatal diagnostic test based on isolation of fetal cells from the mother’s blood.”

It might be worth noting that Celula co-founder Andy Katz was previously a senior executive at Genoptix Medical Laboratory (NASDAQ: GXDX), a Carlsbad, CA-based company that provides centralized diagnostic laboratory services for blood specialists. Enterprise Partners’ Drew Senyei, a Genoptix venture investor who has remained as board chairman, also was an early venture investor of Celula, and serves on Celula’s board.