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Biotech laser firm cuts debt with $2.55M share issue

31 Aug 2011

Hamilton Thorne, which provides laser systems for biotechnology applications, will also use proceeds to invest in R&D.

Beverly, Massachusetts-based Hamilton Thorne, which sells laser systems used in fertility research and the emerging field of regenerative medicine, is to cut its debt levels after closing the first tranche of a private share placement.

The company told optics.org last month that it was planning for “a significant raise on the public markets within the next year” as it looks for the investment needed to accelerate new product development.

But following the issue of nearly 12.5 million shares at a price of CDN$0.20 to raise $2.55 million, the first priority appears to be a reduction in debt. On its latest balance sheet, the company shows a long-term debt of close to $6.8 million against total assets of only $2.3 million, and it has paid more than $130,000 so far this year in interest.

“Hamilton Thorne intends to use $1.5 million of the net proceeds of these transactions to reduce the amount outstanding on the company’s line of credit from $5 million to $3.5 million,” announced the firm in a statement. “The balance will be used to fund the company’s research and development, further enhance global distribution channels for its laser product line and for general corporate purposes.”

Founded a decade ago, Hamilton Thorne first raised funds publicly in 2009, after spinning off its molecular diagnostics business. The company is now quoted on Toronto’s TSX Venture exchange.

Miniature laser systems
Hamilton’s miniaturized laser systems, operating at wavelengths of around 1.5 µm, exploit the absorption of water in the near infrared to selectively ablate cells for laboratory work, and can also be used in IVF treatment to improve success rates of the fertility procedure. The technology also allows researchers to inject stem cells into early-stage embryos, where the laser enables localized access with minimal damage.

“In effect, the laser carries out miniature robotic microsurgery on cells,” CEO Meg Spencer told optics.org last month.

In the second quarter of 2011, the company posted a 27% sequential increase in sales to $1.8 million, with Spencer pointing to strong market adoption of Hamilton’s new LYKOS laser system as a key reason for the jump in revenues.

Sales for the first half of 2011 reached $3.3 million, up 18% on the opening half of 2010, although Hamilton also posted a widening net loss of $1.2 million – which the company attributes to higher spending on research and product development, as well as the interest expenses that it is now seeking to reduce.

On the product development front, the company is also collaborating with ISee3D, Inc. to market a single-chip 3D microscope technology. Under the terms of the deal, Hamilton has exclusive rights to sell the 3D technology with its lasers in certain medical research markets, and it expects to demonstrate the novel system this fall.

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