HepatoTech Inc. has sold its assets and expertise, including a new cell-culture facility, to CellzDirect, a cell-based biotech company in Tucson, AZ.

A founder of the company will also join CellzDirect.

Terms were not disclosed.

HepatoTech’s scientific focus has been to isolate and culture high-quality hepatocytes from multiple species. Hepatocytes have become a standard in the pharmaceutical industry for evaluating liver metabolism and toxicity of new drug candidates and other chemical entities.

James Coon, president and chief executive officer of HepatoTech, and Chief Scientific Officer Ed LeCluyse assembled a team of scientists and launched the company to push the benefits of cell-based hepatic in vitro models. LeCluyse will keep the role of CSO at CellzDirect.

“We are pleased to have Ed LeCluyse join our executive team as chief scientific officer,” said CellzDirect CEO Scott Edelman. “He is regarded as one of the leading experts in the liver-research field. Many of the top pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the U. S. and Europe, as well as regulatory agencies, consult with Dr. LeCluyse about issues related to drug metabolism, drug-drug interactions, and toxicity, which together represent about half of the reasons that new drugs fail.”

LeCluyse, an associate professor of drug delivery and disposition at the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy, has conducted research focused on understanding the mechanisms of induction of hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes, as well as enhancing the isolation of human and animal hepatocytes.

“We are excited about having the opportunity to combine HepatoTech’s scientific talent and resources with the commercial expertise of CellzDirect’s founders,” LeCluyse stated. “CellzDirect’s experience with tissue procurement, product commercialization, and business development will ensure that our scientific team can accomplish its goal to improve and expand the use of hepatocytes in research.”

Late last year, CellzDirect closed on a $2.8-million round of equity financing and acquired CEDRA Corporation’s in vitro business. Investors included lead investor Valley Ventures, Solstice Capital, Technology Funding, and Village Ventures.

Since its inception three years ago, CellzDirect has raised $7.2 million to support building a business focused on in vitro research. In addition to its headquarters in Tucson, the new HepatoTech facility in RTP, CellzDirect also has the former CEDRA in vitro business in Austin, TX.

CellzDirect: www.cellzdirect.com