ChemCodes accepted $1.8 million in bridge loans a month ago as it continues its search for $15 million in additional backing.

ChemCodes Chief Executive Officer John Didsbury tells Local Tech Wire, “the loans were pre-planned by our board a year ago. They give us sufficient runway to achieve significant milestones related to our partnering.”

The company, founded in 1999, uses technology licensed from GlaxoSmithKline to speed up and automate the process of finding compounds for new drugs. It inked deals with Roche and Wyeth to test its technology, and Didsbury says, “They’re happy” so far.

Didsbury, who replaced interim CEO Robert Bell, a partner with Intersouth which is one of ChemCodes venture backers, helped focus the company on helping partners find novel potential drug compounds and examining current drugs to produce significantly better versions.

Didsbury says the bridge loans – which includes another $1.5 million if needed by the company – will fund its operations through the end of the year.

ChemCodes raised a total of $8.5 million in venture funds so far from Intersouth, Durham, Atlanta’s Noro-Moseley, and angel investors.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP) awarded ChemCodes a $2 million grant for continued technology development in 2001. It was only the third NC company to receive an ATP grant. The ATP program targets “visionary” companies with technologies that have the potential to create new industries and bolster the economy.