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Cutting edge approach will revolutionize chemical discovery

Cambridge, MA, May 12, 2004 - Ensemble Discovery Corporation, a company that uses specially designed DNA molecules to direct synthesis of organic compounds, announced today that it has raised a $15M Series A round of private equity financing from Flagship Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners and Oxford Bioscience Partners. Ensemble's DNA-Programmed ChemistryTM, invented by Professor David Liu of Harvard University, combines powerful features of molecular biology and nanotechnology to discover small molecule chemical compounds, polymers, and chemical reactions. Ensemble intends to apply its platform technology to discover new products and processes that will address significant unmet needs in pharmaceuticals, materials, electronics, and chemical markets.

Ensemble Discovery Corporation was founded by Flagship Ventures and Professor Liu. The company holds a worldwide, exclusive license to the patents covering DNA-Programmed Chemistry fromHarvard University.

"DNA-Programmed Chemistry essentially uses sequences of DNA as miniature machines that assemble chemical compounds," said Douglas Cole, a Partner at Flagship Ventures and Acting CEO of Ensemble. "Over the last 25 years, molecular biologists have been quite successful at using recombinant DNA technology to discover useful proteins. More recently, nanotechnology has held out the promise of manipulating systems at the molecular level. DNA-Programmed Chemistry draws on insights from both of these fields in order to overcome limitations of conventional chemistry. The range of commercial potential is unusually broad compared with many technologies that we see."

Karen Kerr, a Partner at Arch Venture Partners commented, "Investors have been looking for a real breakthrough in chemistry for decades. Professor's Liu's invention, for the first time, lets chemists translate and amplify synthetic organic molecules. The work has been extensively validated in Professor Liu's laboratory. We believe that DNA-Programmed Chemistry has the potential fundamentally to change synthetic chemistry."

"I hope that DNA-Programmed Chemistry will allow chemical synthesis and discovery to begin to use fundamental features of biology." stated Professor Liu. "I am gratified by the prospect that the concepts behind DNA-Programmed Chemistry will yield products that meet real-world needs and have the potential to improve the quality of life for people in meaningful ways."

Starting with the first publication in this field in 2001 (JACS 123:6961), Prof. Liu's research on DNA Programmed Chemistry has been extensively published through over nine peer-reviewed articles. Together, the publications and patents from this work lay the foundation of what Ensemble Discovery expects will become a completely new and proprietary way to synthesize novel compounds and offer opportunities for the unprecedented marriage of Nanotechnology, Molecular Biology and Chemistry.

About Flagship Ventures

Flagship Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on creating, financing, and building companies in the Life Science and High Technology sectors. Flagship's team of twenty professionals is among the most experienced in the industry and represents a balance of venture capital, corporate executive, and entrepreneurship expertise. Its principals were involved as founders and investors in nearly 100 firms including: AltaVista, Anesta, Antigenics, Aspect Medical Systems, Astral Point Communications, Celera Genomics, Color Kinetics, Cytyc, DataSage, Exact Sciences, PerSeptive Biosystems, Telecorp PCS and TripAdvisor. Headquartered inCambridge,MA, Flagship Ventures was founded in 1999 and manages over $600 million. For more information, visit

About ARCH Venture Partners

ARCH Venture Partners manages six venture funds with over $1.1 billion under management. ARCH has invested in the seed or first round of more that 110 start-up companies, and focuses on core technology breakthroughs from academic and corporate research. ARCH is one of the leading investors in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and semiconductors, and has invested in the seed or first round of companies such as Caliper Technologies, Nanophase Technologies, Illumina, Aviron, Nanosys, Xenoport, Adolor, Array Biopharma, Impinj, Alnylam, Xcyte, and Semzyme, among others. For more information, visit

About Oxford Bioscience Partners

Oxford Bioscience Partners (OBP) is a life science venture capital firm that provides equity financing and management assistance to start-up early-stage, entrepreneurial-driven companies in the bioscience and healthcare industries. The General Partners of OBP currently manage venture funds with combined committed capital of more than $800 million. Oxford Bioscience Partners has achieved considerable success and above average returns in the bioscience field over the past 20 years through investments in more than 100 companies worldwide. More information on Oxford Bioscience Partners is available at


Douglas G. Cole
Flagship Ventures