Biolex, which this week inked its fourth deal to explore making proteins via its aquatic Lemna plant for pharmaceutical companies, hopes to close its fourth venture round at between $15 and $20 million this quarter.

Biolex Chief Executive Officer Jan Turek tells Local Tech Wire, “We’ve been getting support from our local investors and hope to close the round this quarter.”

Biolex has raised a total of $9.1 million so far from Franklin Street Capital, Intersouth Partners, Kitty Hawk Capital, Wakefield Group and Tall Oaks Capital.

Turek says the company’s latest deal to explore making three proteins for Centocor, a Johnson and Johnson subsidiary, “is further validation of our technology.”

About eight months will be needed to evaluate the results in the Centocor deal, Turek adds. At that time the companies would discuss scaling up the operation to make much larger quantities of the proteins if all goes well. They’ll look at how much protein the aquatic plants are able to express and the physical characteristics of the proteins.

Using the aquatic plants to produce proteins could be much more efficient and cost effective than current methods using animals to express proteins companies want to test as drugs.

“The preliminary results we’ve been sharing with our partners is extremely gratifying,” Turek says.

The company has similar deals in the works with Bayer, Debiopharm S.A., and an undisclosed major pharmaceutical company.