IsoPlexis, Company Unveils ‘New Layer’ of Cell Data, Aims at $125 Million at Market Debut – TechCrunch
shares IsoPlexisThe company, which has created tools to amplify the outburst of protein activity surrounding a single cell, began trading on Friday. The company aims to raise about $125 million through its IPO, which will be used to build the commercial team and advance the company’s plans to play a larger role in creating precision medicine.
IsoPlexis was founded in 2013 and falls under the category of companies that you might find in the lab during your drug search. The company mainly focuses on single-cell proteomics (mainly the study of proteins and their interactions). The company has developed tools and software to analyze proteins secreted by cells, from immune cells to cancer cells.
In particular, the tools can be used to identify cells that secrete many different types of proteins. These data sets can then be used to develop new treatments or to understand how people respond to existing treatments.
“The tool we invented is able to identify subsets of cells in the body that we call superhero cells,” explains CEO and co-founder Sean Mackay. “And superhero cells are identified by a lot of activity coming from small subsets of cells that you would normally miss with current technologies.”
Mackay says there are about 150 IsoPlexis units on the market as of the first half of this year. Clients include 15 global pharmaceutical companies, and, per SEC deposit, nearly half of all comprehensive cancer centers in the United States
IsoPlexis has raised a large amount of funding in the past from some notable investors.
Prior to the IPO, the company had guaranteed $205.5 million In Finance, per Crunchbase. the most recent Series D Round Funding totaled approximately $135 million (about $85 million in securities and $50 million in debt financing), and included participation from Perceptive Advisors, Ally Bridge Group, and “funds and accounts” operated by BlackRock.
Today, the shares were initially priced at around $15 per share, but have fallen to around $12 as of writing.
A large part of IsoPlexis’ thesis is that they were the first to use proteins and single cell biology to link the function of cells to patient outcomes. Or, in other words, among the first to show that we might be able to tell how well someone like a cancer patient does, by examining how individual cells and proteins interact.
There is published evidence that IsoPlexis tools can be used for this purpose, particularly when it comes to cancer treatments.
for example, One 2021 nature medicine The study used IsoPlexis tools to examine the activity of immune cells in lymphoma patients. These patients had cancers that were resistant to treatment or had recurred after recovery. Specifically, they were receiving CAR-T cell therapy — a form of treatment in which genetically modified immune cells are injected into a patient, where they then help target cancer cells. In the end, the study found that the production of cytokines (proteins involved in cell signaling), by those CAR-T cells was an important indicator of how active those CAR-T cells actually were.
In essence, he showed that the IsoPlexis device may help detect the signals that tell scientists how well CAR T-cell therapy is working.
“What we’ve seen is that the unique cells that we identify are indicative of a long-term response in patients,” Mackay says. “We’ve published studies in many cancers where, if patients have these types of unique immune cells, these superhero cells that we’re finding, we know those patients will have that outcome in the long run.”
For people particularly interested in the details of cells, IsoPlexis technology may seem similar to flow cytometry – a well-established method for counting and identifying cells and measuring specific cell properties. There are some big, well-established players in the world of flow cytometry, such as Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Despite this, IsoPlexis argues that it could offer a whole new layer of information, largely protein-based information, that flow cytometry misses. The company has licensed an invention that allows the devices to code the activity of a protein found in each individual cell (now called the IsoCode). One Nature Reviews Chemistry The paper suggests That bar coding is useful because it can analyze many different proteins simultaneously, across thousands of cells, and the cells can be retrieved for use in other experiments—but this technique can still capture only a portion of the protein’s total work, so it’s a long way off.
“This new layer of data for a single cell is very different from the technology on the market today,” MacKay adds.
However, the company still has a long way to go before it can achieve profitability. According to SEC documents, the company has been operating at a loss for the past several years. Although the company made $7.5 million in profits in 2019 and $10.4 in 2020, it lost about $13.6 million and $23.3 million in those years, respectively.
Going forward, the path to growth largely means getting more tools into the hands of more researchers.
“Our goal is to keep moving forward in a quick segment, expanding the same type of clients we currently have, but in more depth, and that really is by continuing to build the commercial team,” he says.