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Codon Devices Reportedly Shuts Down

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Codon Devices Inc., a five-year-old Cambridge biotech working on ways to synthesize DNA and other genetic material, is quietly shutting down.

A week ago, board members voted to close the doors after they failed to raise additional money, said a person affiliated with the company who did not want to be named.

Flagship Ventures, one of Codon's investors, recently removed Codon's name from its list of portfolio companies, but declined to comment. No one responded to messages left on the company's voice mail, and its chief executive, Brian Baynes, did not return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment, and no one came to the door at the company.

But Codon's failure is especially notable because it attracted so many big-name investors, including Alloy Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

In total, the company raised at least $31 million. Its founders included some star researchers, including George Church of Harvard University and Drew Endy, who recently moved from MIT to Stanford University.

Codon hoped to use its technology for everything from developing cutting-edge drugs to agriculture and biofuels. Steven Dickman, a life sciences consultant, included Codon on his list of "10 most promising life sciences start-ups in New England" in 2007. Dickman said he was surprised to hear Codon has shut down, given its ambitious goals and impressive lineup of investors and researchers. It had 50 to 60 employees in 2007.

"This was a very high-profile company," said Dickman, chief executive of CBT Advisors in Cambridge, who has done consulting work for Codon.

"Even the all-star cast was apparently not able to save it."