IsoPlexis, a company discovering a ‘new layer’ of cellular data, targets $ 125 million for market debut – TechCrunch

Shares of IsoPlexis, a company creating tools to zoom in on protein activity surrounding a single cell, began trading on Friday. The company aims to raise around $ 125 million with the IPO, which will be used to build the sales team and advance the company’s plans to play a bigger role in creating precision medicine.

IsoPlexis was founded in 2013 and falls under the category of companies that you might find in a lab during the drug research process. The company mainly focuses on single-cell proteomics (primarily the study of proteins and their interactions). The company has developed instruments and software to analyze proteins secreted by cells, from immune cells to tumor cells.

In particular, the instruments can be used to identify cells that excrete many different types of proteins. These data sets could then be used to develop new treatments or understand how people may respond to existing treatments.

“Our instrument that we invented is able to identify subsets of cells in the body that we call superhero cells,” says CEO and co-founder Sean Mackay. “And these superhero cells are defined by a lot of activity coming from small subsets of cells that you would normally miss with existing technologies today.”

Mackay says there are around 150 IsoPlexis units on the market in the first half of this year. Customers include 15 global pharmaceutical companies and, by filing with the SEC, nearly half of the full cancer centers in the United States

IsoPlexis has raised a significant amount of funding in the past from some notable investors.

Prior to the IPO, the company had secured approximately $ 205.5 million in funding from Crunchbase. The latest round of Series D funding totaled approximately $ 135 million in funding (approximately $ 85 million in equity securities and $ 50 million in debt financing) and included participation from Perceptive Advisors, Ally Bridge Group and “funds and accounts” managed by BlackRock.

Today, the stock price was initially around $ 15 each, but has dropped to around $ 12 at the time of writing.

An important part of IsoPlexis’ thesis is that they are the first to use proteomics and single cell biology to link cell function to patient outcomes. Or in other words, among the first to show that we might be able to tell just how far someone like a cancer patient can fare, by looking at how individual cells and proteins interact.

There is published evidence that IsoPlexis instruments have been used for this purpose, especially when it comes to cancer treatments.

For example, a 2021 Natural medicine study used IsoPlexis instruments to examine immune cell activity in patients with lymphoma. These patients had cancers that were resistant to treatment, or that had come back after remission. Specifically, they were receiving CAR-T cell therapy – a form of treatment where genetically engineered immune cells are injected into a patient, where they then help target cancer cells. Ultimately, the study found that the production of cytokines (proteins involved in cell signaling) by these CAR-T cells was an important indicator of how powerful these CAR-T cells really are.

Essentially, it showed that the IsoPlexis device could help uncover the signals that tell scientists how well CAR-T cell therapy is working.

“What we have seen is that the unique cells that we identify are indicative of a long-term response in patients,” Mackay explains. “We have published studies on various cancers where, if patients have these unique immune cell types, these superhero cells that we detect, we know those patients are going to have that long term outcome.”

To people particularly interested in cell thoroughness, IsoPlexis technology may seem similar to flow cytometry – a well-established method for counting cells, identifying them, and measuring specific characteristics of cells. There are large established players in the world of flow cytometry, such as Thermo Fisher Scientific.

IsoPlexis, however, argues that it can offer a whole new layer of information, much of it protein-based information, that flow cytometry lacks. The company has licensed an invention that allows devices to barcode the protein activity present in each individual cell (now called IsoCode). A Nature Reviews Chemistry the paper suggests that bar coding is useful because it can analyze many different proteins at once, on thousands of cells, and the cells can be collected for use in other experiments – but this technology can still only capture that part of the overall action of the proteome, so far.

“This new data layer, for an individual cell, is very different from the technology currently on the market,” adds Mackay.

However, the company still has a long way to go before it reaches profitability. According to SEC documents, the company has been operating at a loss for several years. Although the company generated $ 7.5 million in revenue in 2019 and $ 10.4 million in 2020, it lost around $ 13.6 million and $ 23.3 million in those years, respectively. .

In the future, the path to growth largely means putting more instruments in the hands of more researchers.

“Our goal is to keep moving forward quickly, expanding the same type of clients that we have now, but with more depth, and that’s really just continuing to build a sales team,” he says.

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