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JP Morgan, Canaccord Genuity Initiate Coverage of Akoya Biosciences With Overweight, Buy Ratings

NEW YORK – JP Morgan and Canaccord Genuity on Tuesday initiated coverage of spatial biology firm Akoya Biosciences with ratings of Overweight and Buy and price targets of $23 and $25, respectively.

Both firms highlighted the company's capabilities in oncology and immuno-oncology and noted its attractive valuation compared to other players in the life science space.

The core of Akoya's technology is its CODEX platform, which uses oligonucleotide-linked antibodies to detect proteins of interest in tissue samples. Capable of measuring dozens of different protein targets in a piece of tissue, the system is designed to interface with conventional fluorescence microscopes, enabling them to image samples with high levels of multiplexing and at single-cell resolution.

The company also offers a higher-throughput translational platform called Phenoptics, which performs multispectral imaging and is based on technology from PerkinElmer that Akoya acquired in 2018.

Marlborough, Massachusetts-based Akoya was founded in late 2015 to commercialize technology developed in the lab of Stanford University researcher Garry Nolan, a cofounder of the company. It went public in April in a $151.3 million initial public offering and began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market last month.

In an investor note, JP Morgan analyst Tycho Peterson said Akoya stood out from competitors in the spatial omics space due to its coverage of both research and clinical applications, its large installed based, and the fact that its platform is "fit-for-purpose" for clinical oncology applications.

"Investment in clinical development will establish AKYA as the go-to solution for clinical spatial phenotyping and support clinical market penetration in the long term," he wrote.

Canaccord's Max Masucci noted that while the company has significant opportunity in the research market, clinical diagnostics, particularly in immuno-oncology and selection of targeted therapy "presents a compelling future opportunity."

He added that the more than 100 publications using the company's technology indicated that it "has immediate application in cancer (particularly, immuno-oncology), immunology, neurobiology, autoimmune disorders, and infectious disease."

In Tuesday morning trading on Nasdaq, Akoya stock was down 9 percent to $17.39.