RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The secret sauce at Scynexis is all about chemical magic, and that expertise continues to bring in money for the Durham-based drug research firm.

According to Private Equity Wire, Scynexis has closed on $13.5 million in a Series C round with high-profile Burrill & Co. returning as an investor alongside Alta Partners, SGAM and Ventech. PEWire cited a regulatory filing as the source for the news.

Interestingly, Scynexis is among the presenters at next month’s venture capital event being put on by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development. Company executives will be able to tout the fact they now have raised more than $57 million since the firm launched in 2000.

Scynexis has not really been as high profile a company as other emerging drug and biotech firms in the Triangle. But the firm has some major partners, such as Merck, which is working with Scynexis to develop antifungal agents. Merck has been a partner since 2002.

Other Scynexis partners include Teijin Pharma, Merial, Norak Biosciences, Mitsubishi Pharma, Roche and Merck.

So what’s Scynexis offer? A proprietary compound library purification, analytical tools and what it calls “strong medicinal chemistry expertise.”

It also offers process chemistry, certified synthesis and bioanalytical services as well for a fee or on a project basis.

Whatever the specifics of that secret sauce are, they must appear to be mighty tasty to investors but especially drug giants looking for ways to expand or revitalize their recipe books of drug solutions.

Yves Ribeill, the chief executive officer, launched Scynexis after a long career in chemistry and anti-viral research at Aventis and its predecessor Rhone-Poulenc Rorer. He has been a patent machine, earning 15. He and several fellow Aventis employees teamed up for the Scynexis venture, and the firm has grown to more than 100 employees.

Something’s obviously cooking at the firm that could make it a major success story.